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Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment: Calgary Flames Edition

Ryan Lambert
Puck Daddy

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(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)

Written by Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy

Most Disappointing Team: 2011-2012 Calgary Flames

It's hard to pick just one for this team, because they've only had four 100-point seasons in franchise history, so there's a lot of disappointment to choose from. I went with 2011-12 because that was the second year in a row in which the team — which, on paper, was decent but no great shakes — failed to make the playoffs after being pretty good for the second half of the 2000s.

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CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 12: Calgary Flames General Manager Jay Feaster addresses the media after trading Rene Bourque, a second round pick and prosp...

CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 12: Calgary Flames General Manager Jay Feaster addresses the media after trading Rene …

That was when they should have blown it up. Traded everybody and started stockpiling picks. But Darryl Sutter and then Jay Feaster were still bumbling around and thinking this 90-point team could edge its way into the playoffs the next year (likely on the orders of management). That was the problem: They were always just not-bad enough to convince people that they might just make it the next year.

It's hard to choose anything but 2011-12, though, because after that the bottom dropped out; it was the Flames' last "great" "hurrah." They put up 42 points in the lockout year, then 77. Now the rebuild is actually happening, only three years behind schedule.

This overlooks the "Young Guns" era (the less said, the better), and in 1991-92 they went from 100 points to 74 just three seasons after winning a Cup. But that team got dismantled. Specifically, it was gutted of its depth, but still rebounded the next year to make the playoffs again, when that feat was harder to accomplish.

That 2011-12 season, though, signaled the beginning of what looks to be a long, slow descent into badness.

Most Disappointing Calgary Flame: Daniel Tkaczuk

It's not really ever fair to say, "Oh, if only Team X had picked Player Y instead of who they picked. The whole franchise would be so different!" Maybe, maybe not. Unless you're particularly good with quantum physics, there's not really much way of knowing for sure how Player Y would have done instead.

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Getty Images

Getty Images

And while the 1997 NHL Entry Draft was not a particularly great one or anything, you'd have to say that No. 6 overall Daniel Tkaczuk was as big a swing and a miss as a team made in the late 1990s overall (Pavel Brendl at No. 4 overall two years later was on par or maybe even worse, and Nashville's Brian Finley, who went No. 6 in 1999 not far behind, but offering yet another cautionary tale about picking a goalie high in the first round).

Guys on the board when Tkaczuk went to Calgary: future Hall of Famer Marian Hossa, Sergei Samsonov, Danny Cleary, and Brenden Morrow, among others.

And to be clear: The list of "Disappointing Calgary Flames" is a long and distinguished one. But Tkaczuk had 11 points in 19 games and was never heard from in the bigs again. In fact, he went from playing those 19 games for Calgary in 2001 to the Italian league by 2004-05. That's quite a tumble.

Most Disappointing Moment in Flames History: The no-goal call in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final

So many things went wrong for Calgary in Games 6 and 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. They blew a 3-2 series lead, for one thing.

But the biggest was that Martin Gelinas appeared to score a goal with the Flames on the power play at 13:04 of the third in what was then a tied Game 6. The replay pretty clearly shows the puck crossing the line for the splittest of split seconds.

It went off Gelinas' skate, and the puck was barely across the line, but the NHL didn't even review it. Maybe there's not enough evidence to award the goal, but it's tough not to even send it upstairs. Calgary went on to lose 3-2 in double OT.

Then, in Game 7, there was an awful computer animation that showed the puck may not have crossed the line after all. Not that it mattered. They lost Game 7 as well.

The team wasn't really ever good enough to deserve a Cup anyway, but their Cup run was perhaps the most fun of any team in the last two decades.

Most Disappointing Flames Transaction: Trading Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh

There are a lot to choose from here, with Brett Hull for Rob Ramage, Marc Savard for Ruslan Zainullin, Doug Gilmour for Gary Leeman, and Martin St. Louis for nothing all wordlessly terrible.

But Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla is the Calgary Flames. Probably always will be, too (unless they get Connor McDavid). He was supposed to be a lifer, but when things went sideways, the organization held on too long.

It's tough to part with the all-time franchise player, obviously. But it has to be done. Seeing him go gutted most long-time Flames fans. Those who saw the pragmatism of the move, however, were merely sick to their stomachs at the return.

In exchange for the team's all-time best player by a mile — 1,219 games, 525 goals, 570 assists, 1,095 points — Jay Feaster pulled the following from Pittsburgh: Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski, and a first-round pick that turned out to be Morgan Klimchuk. Hanowski, to this point, is the only one that's made the NHL, and he has 1-2-3 in 16 games.

Of course, things could have been a little better if Feaster's first choice (a package from the Bruins featuring actual NHLer Matt Bartkowski, decent prospect Alex Khokhlachev, and Boston's first-rounder) hadn't been rejected at the very last minute because Iginla thought he'd have a better chance at a Cup with the Penguins.

You can never replace a legend, and none of Agostino, Hanowksi, or Klimchuk were ever going to come close. But that's the return for Iginla? Yikes.

Most Disappointing Flames Coach/Executive: Craig Button

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Craig Button of the NHL network keeps an eye on the draft floor during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 2...

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Craig Button of the NHL network keeps an eye on the draft floor during the 2010 NHL …

Again, there's a pretty long list here from which to choose, because the Flames are routinely run by incompetents. Darryl Sutter had some initial success but crashed and burned, Al Coates oversaw a number of hideously bad drafts, Jay Feaster was Jay Feaster.

But by far the worst was Craig Button.

He made a few shrewd trades over the years, bringing in decent-to-good players like Chris Drury (for one season), Jordan Leopold, Roman Turek, and a few more here and there, and drafting some long-time NHLers like Eric Nystrom, Matthew Lombardi, Chuck Kobasew, Dave Moss, Kurtis Foster, Jarret Stoll and Travis Moen.

But that is far outweighed by the bad. The aforementioned Savard-for-Zainullin trade? A Button special. Letting Marty St. Louis walk? Button. Giving up J.S. Giguere for a second-round pick? Button. Not signing Stoll after drafting him? Button. Allegedly trying to trade Iginla to Buffalo for Mike Peca (but fortunately being rebuffed)? Button. Giving Turek huge money when the team was still cash-poor? Button.

It's true he hired Darryl Sutter to be coach when Greg Gilbert was fired, but the funny story is that Sutter replaced him as GM following the team's awful performance in 2002-03. Sutter's first in-season transaction as general manager? Trading a second-round pick for Miikka Kiprusoff, after the Flames had gone through about 50 goalies in the previous few seasons under Button. That turned things around in a hurry.

Most Disappointing Flames Fashion Choice: Black third jersey (1998-2006)

The one thing you can really say for the Flames all these years is that their jerseys have never been particularly terrible. The guys wearing them, sure, but the uniforms themselves have been pretty strong overall.

Even the uglier ones — such as those from 1995-2000 with the weird diagonal stripes, or the infamous Heritage Classic "Ronald McDonald" jerseys (which I kind of liked, actually) — weren't as offensive as much of what was kicking around the league in those times overall.

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So, by default, the loser here is the "Horsehead" jersey worn when every team seemed to have been required by law to wear black thirds. A horse, you see, because of Calgary's rodeo stuff.

It's not a pretty jersey by any means, but here's something you can't say for too much to do with the Calgary Flames: It could have been worse.


Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York RangersSt. Louis Blues • New York IslandersDallas StarsBoston BruinsColorado AvalancheWashington CapitalsOttawa SenatorsArizona Coyotes Minnesota WildEdmonton OilersSan Jose SharksWinnipeg JetsNew Jersey DevilsLos Angeles KingsFlorida PanthersCarolina HurricanesBuffalo SabresMontreal CanadiensTampa Bay LightningChicago BlackhawksColumbus Blue JacketsNashville PredatorsDetroit Red Wings Anaheim DucksPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh PenguinsVancouver CanucksToronto Maple Leafs

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