What were the Calgary Flames thinking? A better question might be do the people who run the Calgary Flames ever think? This past Thursday, the Flames tendered an offer sheet to restricted free agent Ryan O’Reilly. The fourth year centre had been locked in a contract dispute with the Colorado Avalanche. After the lockout ended, O’Reilly still wasn’t signed so he decided to play in the KHL. When the NHL resumed games, O’Reilly played in two games for Magnitogorsk Metallburg, before returning to North America. The Flames were unaware of this and decided to sign O’Reilly to a 2 year deal that would pay him $1 million this season with a $2.5 million signing bonus, and $6.5 million next season. The Avalanche didn’t wait. About 6 hours later, Colorado matched the deal keeping O’Reilly in Denver.
Here’s the problem. If Colorado didn’t match the deal, O’Reilly would have to clear waivers first before joining Calgary. Which means teams that are way under the salary cap like Columbus, Florida and the New York Islanders could have claimed O’Reilly for nothing, while the Flames would have lost their first and third round draft picks to Colorado. The reason why O’Reilly would need to clear waivers first, is that he played in the KHL when the NHL was back in business. Something that was agreed upon during labour negotiations in the lockout. A lockout that was heavily influenced by Murray Edwards, the Flames owner.
This was the statement released by Flames GM Jay Feaster on Friday.
“Prior to tendering the offer sheet to Ryan O’Reilly we, as a hockey operations department, examined whether there were any impediments to our successfully securing the services of the player including, but not limited to, his having played in the KHL after the start of the current NHL season.”
Our interpretation of the Article 13 transition rules governing restricted free agent, and the applicability of Article 13.23 under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to such RFA’s was, and continues to be, different than the NHL’s current interpretation as articulated to us this morning. Moreover, throughout our discussions, the player’s representative shared our interpretation and position with respect to the non-applicability of Article 13.23.”
Let me translate to what Feaster was really saying. “We have no clue on how to run a hockey team. Even when our owner played a large role in drawing up the latest agreement, so you fans can have hockey again. Our heads remain in the sand, and we will go forward in ruining the Calgary Flames for years to come.”
This organization is a complete joke. A laughingstock. A mess. They’re so bad, they make the Phoenix Coyotes look like a well-run machine that prints money. Jay Feaster deserves to be fired for this latest misstep. Ken King deserves to be fired for hiring Feaster in the first place. That’s the problem with the Flames. There’s no accountability. Remember 2009? At the end of the season, the Flames were hit with the injury bug. However, they could not call up anymore players or they would have gone over the salary cap. So the Flames were forced to dress only 15 players for the final few games of the season. That cost the Flames home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and Calgary were eliminated by Chicago.
The O’Reilly fiasco also looks bad as the Flames can’t afford to give up anymore draft picks. The Flames prospects are rather thin, and their recent draft record has been poor. If the Flames thought that O’Reilly was their last piece to their Stanley Cup puzzle, they are more delusional than people who think The Twilight movies are actually good!
It is time for the Flame to clean house from top to bottom. Feaster and King need to go. As hard as it is for Flames fans to admit this, Jarome Iginla must be traded at the deadline. Miikka Kiprusoff will need to be dealt before his contract is up at the end of next season. Decisions are also required for the futures of Jay Bouwmeester, Matt Stajan and Mike Cammalleri, all of whom become UFA’s in 2014. These decisions are vital to the future of the Flames. If more mistakes are made, the franchise could be headed to oblivion.
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