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The Official Site of the Calgary Flames

Season reflection

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
CALGARY, AB -- On Monday, Calgary Flames president and CEO Ken King and general manager Darryl Sutter addressed the media to reflect upon the 2009-10 season and their plans for the club's future.

"The playoffs start this week and we're not in them," King stated bluntly to start off. "It's the first time in five years and we are gravely disappointed in that and we know that lots of our fans are too, as we've heard from them."

King said that back in 2003 when he and Sutter became the top executives on the team they sets the organization's sites on being a highly competitive team.

And with that direction would come criticism if the team faltered.

"When we made that decision, we knew that we would make life difficult for ourselves," King said."We knew that we would create enormous expectations and anything short of year after year improvement would be challenged and it would come as no surprise that that's exactly what is taking place.

"So, charged with the responsibility to be accountable, Darryl and I are going to, as we have every year, embark on a serious review and evaluation of our hockey operations. I and others will review other aspects of our business here but be sure the core of the nuclear reactor here, while we run the building, we run a food and beverage operation, the core of our business is the Flaming C and our hockey team as it has been for 30 years and as it will always be."

Sutter kicked off his portion of the public address by thanking the continuous support the team has received in spite of a lackluster season.

"I'm disappointed for our ownership group and our fans. I think I said when I came here seven or eight years ago ... number one, going through what they went through for seven years and not being a playoff team and not being a competitive team, that was my number one goal was to get them back there as soon as we could and we were able to do that."

King also acknowledged the fans that are less than pleased with the Flames season, stating they had every right to voice their displeasure.

"Some of our fans are very grateful for the effort that we put through and some are more vitriolic than that, that's pretty clear," he said with a small smile. "That really comes from the fact that that's the business we are in and that's the privilege that they have and that's as it should be. We think that the hallmark of our culture is pretty straightforward and in that is an excellent relationship with our community, an excellent relationship with our fans and a two-way communication that is that they can speak with us and we can speak with them."

While some fans have been very vocal with their anger and sadness over missing the playoffs, King said that Calgary still has the best fans in the NHL.

"We have no challenges with our fans. We like them. A lot," he chuckled. "It would be very difficult not to characterize the C of Red in Calgary as the benchmark. They are trying to emulate it in other cities in terms of spirit and support for your team. Make no mistake. These are good fans."

He then went on to thank Sutter for his work over the past seven and half seasons, saying the organization has benefitted greatly from his presence and will continue to do so in the future.

"I think one of the reason's we've enjoyed such a great renaissance of popularity is due in no small part to the gentleman sitting next to me and his involvement. What he has done has helped create a credible and  competitive hockey environment and we are grateful for that and I know a lot of people in our city are as well."

The pair then took questions from the assembled group of media, fielding inquiries ranging from why the team underachieved to their own job security with the team.

The biggest source of curiousity sat on why the team failed to meet the expectations set at the beginning of the year and while Sutter said that there were many factors surrounding the end result, the biggest problem he thought the team had was the Flames home record.

"Our home record wasn't good enough," he firmly said.

"Looking at this season, my biggest issue, my biggest problem is clearly our home record. I think when you're in the top 10 on the road and in bottom 10 at home, there's an area that you really have to look at and find out why and solve that. That's what we intend to do in the next two or three weeks."

The duo downplayed any trade talk and rumors, saying that there was no plans to rebuild the team or trade any core members of the club.

"There has been a great number of rumors and speculation in media and online and I want to clarify that none of those rumors, none of that speculation have emanated from our organization," King said. "Rumors and speculation are not fact."

"Rumors and speculation don't start from us or from him," was all Sutter would add to questions about the Jarome Iginla trade talk.

Another major issue the Flames have been questioned on is the seemingly revolving door on the locker room. Sutter made two major trades in 2010, dealing franchise defenseman Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie to Toronoto in exchange for Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers, Niklas Hagman and Ian White and then swapped Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust for the Rangers Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.

"I think there's two seperate parts to the Toronto trade and the Rangers trade," Sutter stated. "I think the Toronto trade, number one, you have remember that first off, three of those guys ended three, four and five on our team in scoring so you have to think they accomplished what we wanted. The second part of that is that, we've talked about it before publicly, the one major criteria in players playing here is that they have to want to play here.

"The New York trade was based on, I've said this about the player, about Olli going to New York, I think he's a really good player and I'm not sure it was ever based on how he played."

Many in the media tried to get Sutter to elaborate on any possible locker room strife or if the group of players assembled were tough to coach led to the decision to make such sweeping personnal changes but Sutter shrugged them off, saying his staff did what he wanted.

"Different coaches and a lot of different players so it's really hard to say that. A lot of what I wanted the coaches to accomplish, they did but I don't think any of us foreseen that we'd have the issues that we did have in the locker room and the lack of goal scoring."

Going forward, King said fans need to be aware that the organization is doing a detailed assessment of their season but not to expect anyone to be chased out of town for missing the postseason.

"We are throwing no bodies out onto the tarmac here. Darryl expressed it very clearly. We're going to go and take (a look), at very close scrutiny, of everyone from the president downward and go through out the entire organization.

"My guess is we're going to do exactly what Darryl said: we're going to come up with some issues and some gaps and we'll address those. Let me say this: if it's necessary to sacrifice someone to sell tickets, they'll have to get somebody else to sell tickets."

"We’re basically a cap team, so it’s not a financial issue. I think it’s more difficult than it ever was before to be a top-10 team and to continue to be a top-10 team is the most difficult thing. But we made that choice, and we’ll live with the implications and the repercussions that are associated with it. So no, I don’t have the answer, but we’ll work together in evaluations and reviews like we do every year. And we’re going to come up with things that we wish we did differently and we will do differently in the future."
- Ken King

"Kids like Mikael came in and showed that they are a big part of it. The kids, especially two of them, from Toronto are young guys that are good producers."
- Darryl Sutter on the youth factor

"We had an awesome year considering all the injuries. I think we start the playoffs on the 15th ... I'm really happy with them. We had 12-15 entry-level players playing this year and that is significant. We have some really good offensive players."
- Darryl Sutter on Flames prospects

"Obviously with Jarome, Jarome, I believe is still a 40-goal scorer so he's just short of that. The last two years he's been 35 and 32 guy. So, if you're basing just on numbers, that's what we expect. Daymond had tough start and obviously a real tough finish. I think played his best hockey, quite honestly, when our team wasn't playing well in January. He had a tough start and when you look at it, that's really important."
- Darryl Sutter

"That position, that center position, with Stajan being a 35-40 assist guy, which is what you want and it looks Mikael is going to be a really good player but you need Daymond to bounce back."
- Darryl Sutter

"I think that we're clearly fast enough,"
- Darryl Sutter

"At home, we scored the fewest goals in the NHL. On the road, we scored 15th or 16th (in the NHL)."
- Darryl Sutter

"February 2nd, we had the most career 20-goal scorers in the NHL on our team. Then, when you do it today, it's Jarome, Niklas, Borkie that hit that."
- Darryl Sutter

"Probably three or four wins ... I can lay it out really clean. We played six games in January - we only got one point at home. That puts you six points behind. I've said it every year and it's dead on: if your goal is to be in that 96 point range, it gives you the chance to win your division. If you fall below that, you're in a battle for a playoff spot. When you fall below that, you're always battling uphill."
- Darryl Sutter

"No, I have not but I think Ken answered that. That's really not what's important. I think that the reason I've been in the game as long as I have and been as successful as I have is because I don't base it on my own feelings. There's nothing selfish in it so really, to me, it's almost a non-issue."
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