Olli Jokinen! Now when I heard about the big Flames signing on July 1st, I was listinening to the radio and so did not get to see the look of shock from the talking heads on Sportsnet and TSN. I only heard it in the voices of the radio personalities. But it was clearly a move that no one saw coming.
I certainly didn't see the move coming but I can't say that I am that shocked about it. It just seems like such a Sutter move. Clearly came out of nowhere and went completely against the grain of what the masses think he should do. Typical Sutter.
Personally I am more on the fence about the move than anything. Especially after the news about Daymond Langkow and his neck injury came out. If Langkow isn't ready for the start of the season or worse (meaning not coming back at all), that means the Flames would have gone into the new season with Matt Stajan and Mikael Backlund as their top two centres. Not the most reassuring situation to be sure.
So I have been thinking about what might unfold this season and I have come up with three possible scenarios. Three roads that the Calgary Flames might end up traveling down.
Scenario #1 (Kool-aid scenario): This would be the perfect storm of scenarios. This is what the optimist hopes to see unfold. Its probably the one that Darry Sutter(and Ken King and the owners) are hoping happens. It would involve the line of Tanguay, Jokinen and Iginla all having bounce back years, together. Those three all have great years, Tanguay becomes the missing ingredient for Iginla and Jokinen and they all get back to all-star numbers.
The second key would be all the players that underachieved last year also having bounce back years. Darryl Sutter has said that besides Mark Giordano and Mikka Kipprusoff every player from last year should be looking to do better. The best candidates would probably be Robyn Regher, Jay Bouwmeester, Daymond Langkow and David Moss.
Oh and a couple more things that would help would be Kipprusoff maintaining his form from last year and the team staying relatively healthy. You get all of these pieces to come together and the Flames are probably looking at a division championship and a decent playoff run (or at least another heartbreaking first round exit).
Possible? Sure. Likely? Maybe not. Outside of the movies these kind of resurgences just don't happen. So moving on...
Scenario #2 (Groundhog Day scenario): This scenario is a little more vague in the specific details. It would probably include Jokinen not finding chemistry with Iginla (again) or Tanguay playing like he did in Tampa.
You probably wouldn't get bounce back years from all of the guys mentioned in scenario 1, some but not all of them. Maybe Kippursoff takes a step back. Maybe Injuries.
The point is that in this scenario not everything goes great, nor does it all go to hell, so groundhog day means a recycle of the last few years. The flames hang out in the 7th-10th seed region and either barely make the playoffs or barely don't. Fans are left wringing their hands and crying out "if only...". Now for the last scenario...
Scenario #3 (Doomsday Scenario): If you were to ask anyone who actually gets paid to voice their opinion this is probably what they would tell you is going to happen.
It goes something like this. Jokinen is a failure (again), Tanguay doesn't work out (again), nobody really bounces back and Kipper falters along the way.
The failure of the "new" first line leads to losses early in the season. This puts the team on edge and destroys their confidence. From Iginla to Regher down through Backlund nobody is happy. Fighting in the dressing room begins and the losing continues. The owners are left with no choice but to fire the Sutters and find a new GM and coach to begin the rebuild. Certainly not the most postive scenario but the Flames wouldn't be the first team to have to start over. The question would be when they would wipe the slate clean. Would it be by Christmas or would they wait out the season?
Now anyone reading this is going to know that the most likely case is that none of these scenarios will be how it plays out. More than likely it will be a combination of two of the three. An optimist would hope for somewhere between 1 and 2 while a pessimist would obviously see things between 2 and 3.
So many things could change between now and the start of the season. I don't think Sutter is done making changes so who know how things might end up.
I just wanted to throw some ideas out there and see if anyone agrees or even better disagrees.I'd love to hear what other people think.
Personally if #1 doesn't happen than I think I would actually prefer #3. Sure this year would be a pretty painful one (and at least the next couple after that) but at least the team would have a clear direction and the excitement of lottery picks. Just look how happy the Oiler fans were on draft day. Yeah!