Flames Watch: Kostopolous an early disappointment

If first impressions count, I wasn’t too impressed with veteran grinder Tom Kostopoulos, who came over from Carolina in the Ian White trade last week.

The Flames were one bearhug away from a much-needed two points Sunday in Detroit. With seven seconds remaining, Kostopoulos made contact with Pavel Datsyuk at the Calgary blueline. If he grabs and holds on, Calgary wins 4-3. Worst case, he gets a penalty, the Flames are two men short for the final five or six seconds.

Instead, Datsyuk brushes Kostopoulos aside, goes in and sets up Henrik Zetterberg for the tying goal with four seconds remaining. Detroit then scored in overtime.

Kostopoulos is an experienced checker who should have known the play required desperation and urgency.

Then Monday night against the Rangers, Kostopoulos nullified a first period power play by going after New York defenseman Michael Sauer after Sauer had just delivered a reckless hit on Stefan Meyer. Very noble, but take a number, ‘Kosto’ and deliver the message later. Discipline was needed on this occasion.

Extending Jarome Iginla the vote of confidence that he would not be traded this season may be heart-warming and helped get his season untracked, but it’s not in the best interests of the organization.

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The Flames are rapidly falling out of the playoff race in the Western Conference and if they continue to flounder into December, the team had little option left other than attempt a rebuild. The best return they’ll ever get for a 33-year-old Iginla will come from a Cup-desperate team at the trade deadline. Not in the off-season.

I can see why the organization announced the no-trade-Jarome stand. If the season continues to go south and the trade rumours continue to swirl, there’s surely no chance GM Darryl Sutter will be invited back next season.

The Flames would prefer a new GM to make his own Iginla trade and not see Sutter deal him in January for four or five warm bodies.

But by making Iginla the Mats Sundin of Calgary, the Flames will be stuck in retarded mediocrity like the Toronto Maple Leafs. What they really need to rebuild is good return for Iginla in February (if the Flames tank) and a couple of top five draft picks the next couple of years.

This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.