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Hartley, Flames embark on season of change

AP - Sports

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Flames coach Bob Hartley acknowledged the obvious when he publicly praised the selection of defenseman Mark Giordano as Calgary's captain.

''Mark represents all the qualities that we set as a coaching staff and an organization,'' Hartley said. ''He is a quality man who is proud to represent the Calgary Flames both on and off the ice. We are very happy with (him) setting the example for our team, and especially our young players, as we move through this crucial yet exciting period in the history of the Flames franchise.''

Indeed, they will need all the help they can get. Calgary is coming off another disappointing season, and there are fewer and fewer stars around the locker room these days.

The Flames launched a complete rebuilding of the franchise at the trade deadline last season, and continued the overhaul during the offseason with a series of trades. A playoff berth doesn't seem likely this year, but Calgary will have a foundation for the future, if nothing else.

The Flames open vs. Washington on Oct. 3.

Here are five things to watch with the rebuilding Flames:

FRONT OFFICE REFORMATION: Front-office stability means a lot around here. Calgary has only had six general managers in franchise history, with the latest being Jay Feaster, who took over for Darryl Sutter on Dec. 28, 2010. The Flames are 97-83-32 in Feaster's three full seasons, but have not qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2009. But Feaster has help this year. Veteran executive Brian Burke has been brought in to be president of hockey operations. ''It's a great city and great hockey market,'' Burke said. ''I couldn't be more pleased.''

ROSTER RECONSTRUCT: For years, Calgary's roster was predictable. Not anymore. Former captain Jarome Iginla is gone, and has been on two teams - Pittsburgh and Boston - less than a year after Calgary shipped him to the Penguins. Also no longer with the team is goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, forward Alex Tanguay and defenseman Cory Sarich. Among the new faces? Right wing David Jones, defenseman Shane O'Brien, and left wing T.J Galiardi. Calgary also signed free-agent goaltender Karri Ramo.

OFFENSIVE OUTAGE: The Flames have a decided lack of goal scoring. Left wing Curtis Glencross led the team last season with 15. He was followed by left wing Mike Cammalleri (13), the since-traded Tanguay (11) and right wing Jiri Hudler (10). Calgary finished the truncated 2013 season with a 2.67 goals per game average.

DEFENSIVE DEBACLE: Calgary ranked 28th with a 3.27 goals-against average while the penalty kill was tied for 13th in the league (81.5 percent). The Flames must improve there, and need to protect their own zone better. Playing tight-checking, defensive-minded games under Hartley could help.

STATE OF THE SADDLEDOME: The Saddledome, the Flames' home since 1983, was renovated this summer after July flooding. Flames president Ken King is optimistic about the changes and the overall look of the rink. ''Everything is in place to go,'' he said. Can the same be said for the team?

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