Tag Archives: Calgary Flames

Pre-Season Records, Guys on the Bubble and Sarah Palin

by desertdawg
So I have a guilty secret. I really get a kick out of Edmonton Oilers Fans.

Yep. No irony, no mocking tone here. I love those guys. I read Oiler chat boards constantly and have not found a more passionate, knowledgeable group of fans anywhere in the league. Sure Toronto and Montreal Fans are passionate, but they are like Sarah Palin and her evil minions…the “my country right or wrong crowd.” Idiotic groupthink at the centre of their own little universe. Other teams don’t rate…or even exist.

But Edmonton fans think nothing of ripping into their own team, or each other for that matter. But at the heart of it, they love their Oil and they hate everyone else. Especially the Flames and the Canucks and their respective fan bases. The Oil fans mock, despise and may even practice some northern form of Santeria in order to place bad joss on their NW opposition. And nothing proves the point more than the Oil base reaction to the Canucks’ pre-season record. Sure they’re undefeated…but it’s only pre-season. Most other fans could care less about the Canucks’ record. But not the Oil base. They simply can’t stand the fact that the Canucks have done exceedingly well and the Oil base spew vitriol and contempt at every turn. Canucks undefeated? They hate it! The Oil base is consumed with passion and I tip my hat to them.

And the undefeated pre-season? Well, it’s nice I suppose. But the coach is more concerned with checking players out and installing systems. Winning is a bonus… but not the point. But for long suffering Canucks fans, it is a boost, and after last year’s disaster, any boost is most welcome.

And the bubble guys?. They have about eight players going for one roster spot (the 12th forward) and two or three spare positions (two extra forwards and one 7th D-man).

So who gets over the hump?

At this point, I really don’t think it matters that much. The big decisions have been made and are clear. BTW, Hansen is not a bubble player, he has made the team. The forward lines have settled 11 of the 12 positions (Johnson and Hordichuk as 2/3 of the fourth line). So they have a choice of Brown, Krog, Wellwood, Pettinger and Cowan. Everyone has their favourites, but if I had to chose, I’d say Wellwood makes the team as the number 12 forward and Brown and Pettinger hit the Black Aces squad along with Rob Davidson as the 7th D. But these are small matters. The Canucks have three lines that can score and a fourth line that can win face offs, take spot duty on the PK or PP, and a heavyweight who can drop ‘em and throw ‘em.

No wonder they are six and oh.



by Ron Spence

A team falters all season – mired in controversy – gets it together, squeaks into the playoffs, and then makes a run for the Stanley Cup….

A player improves, flourishes, falters, and then gains redemption, when he returns to his roots – to the team where he started his career – as he makes a comeback….

Most of us love these stories. They remind us of different elements of our own lives.

The NHL is playing out variations on the second plot line.

Jeff Friesen is trying to resurrect his career in San Jose, and Jeff O’Neil is attempting to return to the NHL, with Carolina.

Friesen was chosen 11th overall, in the 1994 Draft. He played part of the 1994-95 season with the Sharks, and full seasons until 2000-01, when he was part of the Selanne trade, with the Ducks. During his time in San Jose, he scored 22, 26, 28 and 31 goals.

Friesen played one season in Anaheim, and two in New Jersey, where he helped to win the Stanley Cup – by scoring 10 playoff goals. He played two part seasons for the Capitals and Ducks –  following the lockout – and one full year for the Flames.

Last season, he played in only five games in the AHL, before hanging up his skates due to injury.

Jeff O’Neil was selected 5th overall by Hartford, in 1994.

He started playing for the Whalers in 1995-96, and scored 8, 14 and 19 goals, before 25 goals, and 41 goals in 2000-01. He helped Carolina to win the Cup, and by 2002-03, he had his third consecutive 30 goal season.

O’Neil was injured and had a subpar year, there was the lockout, and then he was traded to the Leafs. In Toronto, he played for two seasons, and his production slowly fell off, largely due to personal problems.

Petr Nedved’s colourful NHL career has been well documented. Sportsillustrated.cnn.com wrote.

The Sports Illustrated highlights didn’t mention Nedved’s unpopularity in New York – after he’d been sent there from St. Louis.

John Dellapina, of the Daily News, provides some details of Nedved’s first tenure in the Big Apple:

People are pulling for the east and west Jeffs.

“What a great story it would be if Jeff could continue his career with the team he started with, and contribute and the team has success,” the San Jose coach said. “But so many things have to happen prior to that.”

“He did nothing to hurt himself,” McLellan continued. “But did he climb the ladder to the top? No, he didn’t do that either.”

Bryan Thiel of the Bleacher Report wrote of O’Neil: “For his sake, I hope he can prove that he’s earned a spot on the Carolina Hurricanes roster. Or at least proves to the league that, after everything he’s been through, he can still play, and still be a factor, maybe prove that he’s still that mullet-wearing, hockey-loving kid he used to be, with the same passion anyone brings to the game—just now with a little added fire.”

Friesen and O’Neil are still at the Sharks’ and Hurricanes’ camps, but Nedved has been released by the Rangers.

He played well enough, but there weren’t any roster spots available.

But, had the talented Czech made the New York squad, it wouldn’t have been a feel good story.

Friesen and O’Neil had lost their way – due to injuries and personal problems – whereas, Nedved has always been just plain greedy.

He has never had any loyalty.

He wasn’t playing for redemption. He wanted more money.

Few have any sympathy for Petr Nedved. He has burned his many Karmatic bridges behind him, so to speak.


P.S. And now, Claude Lemieux wants to make a comeback. Well, at least it won’t be for the money.

The following from the newsobserver.com:


In 2000-01 Jeff O'Neill was the only player to lead his team in both goals and hits.

Alas, Jeff Friesen was in shape, but the San Jose Sharks were chockablocked full of forwards. It was the same sitaution, in a way, as Nedved’s in New York.

The San jose Mercury reports:

Word is obviously already out that the Sharks ended Jeff Friesen’s tryout without adding him to the roster. I won’t pretend this is breaking news.

In hindsight, there were hints along the way that was how this might wind up, but I know a lot of longtime Sharks fans were hoping it would work out differently.

Midway through training camp, for example, Todd McLellan said he recognized what a good story it would be if Friesen could continue his career where it began, if he’d be able to contribute to the Sharks’ season much the same way Dallas Drake did in his homecoming to Detroit a year ago. Then the coach added: “But it’s up to Jeff.”

Coaches are rarely forthcoming with detailed explanations when players are cut or benched. They’ve got their reasons, but it’s usually not in their best interest to spell them out.

Today, McLellan seemed to be following the traditional tack.

“We now went through a couple days where we sorted out as an orgazniation where we wanted to be and made a decision on the 23-man roster,” the coach said. “In fairness to Jeff, he had a good camp, he competed very well, he did everything he could. But for us to continue to hold onto him and to linger with hm wasn’t going to help him in his attempt to come back.”

GM Doug Wilson said earlier in the week that the staff was waiting for a medical update on Marcel Goc’s injury before having to make a decision on Friesen. McLellan said today that Goc was back on the ice for a light skate today, but that his possible availability was only “somewhat” of a factor in the Friesen decision.

I’m trying to reach Friesen. So far, no luck.”


by Ron Spence

The Vancouver Blazers were only a two year blink in B.C.’s hockey history. And, their successor didn’t last much longer in Calgary.

It was fitting that Vancouver should have an outlaw WHA team, as hockey’s previous outlaw circuit had been centered in British Columbia.

The WHA’s franchise was initially allocated to Miami, and was to be called the Screaming Eagles. Their master plan was to sign a few franchise players, to draw fans to the southern Florida games. They first signed Maple Leafs’ goalie Bernie Parent, but then encountered a small problem. They didn’t have a rink.

This forced the franchise to relocate to Philadelphia, where they played in the limited 8,000 seat Civic Centre. The Philly Blazers next signed Derek ‘the Turk’ Sanderson to a $2.6 million contract, which briefly made him the World’s highest paid athlete.

The Blazers didn’t blaze, however and started the WHA’s inaugural 1972-73 campaign with only four wins in twenty games. They improved dramatically, however and finished the season with a 38-40-0 record.

In July of 1973, Vancouver’s Jimmy Pattison purchased the Blazers and moved them to the Pacific Coliseum. They shared the Renfrew St. rink with the Canucks, who were then starting their fourth NHL season.

Unfortunately for Pattison, he lost his scoring star Andre Lacroix, who had led the WHA with 124 points (Lacroix’s contract had stated that he didn’t have to play in Canada.). The Blazers still had the talented Danny Lawson, but couldn’t reach the playoffs in either the 1974 or 1975 seasons.

The always pragmatic Pattison, quickly realized that Vancouver couldn’t support two big league teams, and relocated the Blazers to hockey-starved Calgary.

The Flames had yet to arrive from Atlanta, and the newly-named Cowboys played in the 8,945 seat Calgary Stampede Corral. Their first season in southern Alberta, the Cowboys improved to a 41-35-4 record. This was largely the result of Danny Lawson’s 44 goals and Ron Chipperfield’s 42 tallies.

They went on to beat Quebec in a brawl-filled series, and then played the Winnipeg Jets, but were only able to draw 5,000 fans for their playoff games.

Their good play didn’t continue, however, and the 1976-77 season the Cowboys played brilliant at home, but brutal on the road. The 4,500 ticket holders witnessed a 26-12-2 record. On the road the cowboys stumbled out of the chute to a 6-31-5 record.

Next, the franchise considered moving to its fifth city, Ottawa, but decided to remain in southern Alberta.

By this time the Calgary fans were fed up, and only purchased 2,000 season tickets, so the team went up in flames.

The Screaming Eagles/Blazers/Cowboys reflected the W.H.A.’s declining fortunes. Two other teams shut down the same summer as the Cowboys, and two more a year later.

Finally, the league ceased operations, and four WHA teams –Hartford [now Carolina], Quebec [now Colorado], Winnipeg [now Phoenix] and Edmonton joined the National Hockey League, for the 1979-80 season.

Jimmy Pattison had tried to keep the Cowboys afloat so that he could be allotted an NHL franchise for Calgary. But, the league didn’t like the tiny Corral, and Pattison took his money, and ran back to Vancouver.

Ironically, Calgary would get its NHL team three years later. The Atlanta Flames relocated to Calgary the 1980-81 season, and played in the Corral until the Saddledome was completed.

When it opened on October 15, 1983, it was known as the Olympic Saddledome, as it would host the indoor ice events for the 1988 Winter Olympics.