Bringing Up The Heat: The Calgary Flames Could Use Leland Irving

Steve McSweenSenior Analyst IOctober 28, 2009

CALGARY, AB - SEPTEMBER 15: Goaltender Leland Irving #35 gets encouragement  from teammates including David Moss #25 and Matt Pelech #56 after the Calgary Flames 4 - 1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in NHL preseason action on September 15, 2009 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)
Mike Ridewood/Getty Images

To say there is anything wrong with the 7-2-1 Calgary Flames so far this season may be like calling Nickelback a horrible band; they may be bad but they continue to be at the top of the charts.

The Flames, though at the top of the standings in the Western Conference, have not had great goaltending from the duo of Miikka Kiprusoff and Curtis Mcelhinney.

Yes, there have been spurts where "Kipper" has looked like the elite goaltender that carried Calgary into the 2003-04 Stanley Cup, but with a goals against average of 3.10 and a save percentage of just over .900 he is hardly the same player.

After four straight first round exits, waiting for Kiprusoff to shine in the playoffs again has been like waiting for Macaulay Culkin to revitalize his acting career.

Then there is Curtis Mcelhinney, who has gone 1-9-1 in his NHL career, and this season has a goals against average of 4.00 and save percentage of .862.

A win for Mcelhinney is about as rare as Halley's Comet.

So with this being said, why would the Flames decide to send Leland Irving back to the farm to suit up for the Abbotsford Heat this season?

Yes, he is just 21 years of age, but his resume is pretty impressive.

Last season the kid won 24 games and had a remarkable 2.23 goals against average with the Quad City Flames of the AHL.

He has won at the junior level as well, capturing a gold medal in 2007 with Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Tournament in Leksand, Sweden.

He also looked pretty good in preseason, but then again so did Theoren Fleury.

The Flames will say he needs to develop his game in the minors, and yes you don't want to rush a good young goaltender so he becomes the next Jim Carey, Andrew Raycroft, or more recently Carey Price.

But along with being a good young tender, Leland also battled cancer and won, something that can build character far beyond ones years.

I guess if it ain't broke don't fix it, and the Calgary Flames at 7-2-1 this season definitely are not.

Though something just tells me if the Flames hope to get to "the Promised Land" they may need to get Leland first.