Team: Calgary Flames
Your 2015-16 Season
Craptacular! After a surprise postseason appearance in 2014-15, the Flames regressed right back to where they were the year before. In part because of bad goaltending, but also in part because California woke up from its yearlong nap and decided to stop screwing around. That's really the only way the Flames can even hope for a playoff spot: hope that a couple teams just decide to take the year off or something. Now that it's happened, I wouldn't expect it to again. The Sharks or Kings would have to fall down some kind of Mystery Hole or something.
Anyway, a disaster of a regression last season spelled the end for Bob Hartley just one year after the Jack Adams Memorial PDO Kiss of Death Award. That's good! With so many decent names out there on the coaching market, I'm sure they could finally find the guy that will help them take that next, permanent step forward.
Your Head Coach
Glen Gulutzan, everybody! Comes from a pedigreed coaching background of achieving nothing tangible in particular. Here is his comprehensive list of career NHL highlights:
-2011-2013: doing nothing of any particular relevance in Dallas, only to watch them get good after he leaves under Lindy friggin Ruff.
-2013-2014: being the guy in Vancouver responsible for making sure John Tortorella didn't kill anybody.
-2014-2016: somehow keeping his job in Vancouver, which you completely forgot happened.
All and all, Gulutzan brings to the table a career head coaching record of 64-57-9. In his NHL coaching career, he's presided over a whopping one postseason appearance with two wins. But those were against the Flames! You know what they say: if you can't beat 'em one-third of the time, hire that guy! Or something like that.
Your Starting Goalie
It's Brian Elliott? Really? That actually happened? For some reason, I have trouble believing that the Flames acquired Brian Elliott. It still feels like some kind of strange fever dream.
Anyway, Elliott hasn't played more than 43 games in a year since the 2009-10 season, so have fun with that. He was so trusted by his old team that they spent years looking for someone to replace him. You basically hired the goaltending equivalent of that guy at your office that everyone hates but he has seniority, so instead of firing him, they promote other people to do his work in the hopes of phasing him out. That's the future of Flames goaltending!
Elliott, by the way, is only elite every other year, and that was last year. He's also a UFA next season, so there's no guarantee Calgary can keep him. They could just be getting one year of average Brian Elliott! You also signed backup Chad Johnson to a one-year deal, so you could be right back to square one in 2017.
New Things That Suck
Troy Brouwer? That's your big plan here?! Give $4.5MM a season to a guy who has never cracked 45 points? You could've probably kept Jiri Hudler for less! At least Monahan and Gaudreau could give him a career year in his 30s.
Other than signing two former St. Louis Blues- because nothing exemplifies success like that franchise- they made a few extremely "our new coach coached these guys" depth signings in Linden Vey and Alex Chiasson, and added Chris Higgins on a PTO. Ho hum.
Things That Still Suck
This team is a perfect representation of the city it plays in. Flames fans remember two seasons in particular: 1989 and 2004. These are the only two years in my lifetime that the Calgary Flames have been the least bit relevant. In the last 26 seasons, the Flames have won a grand total of four playoff series; they've been past the first round twice. Minnesota and Nashville have made it past the first round more times despite only existing for about half of that time. You're basically the Cincinnati Bengals of hockey, except the Cincinnati Bengals at least give off the impression they might be good one of these years.
To that end, the Flames are just as overhyped a franchise as the city. All you ever hear is Calgarians talk up their city as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Have you ever been to Calgary? It's the definition of mediocrity. It's a typical city with suburbs that has a river running through it. Their chief import is airport layovers. Despite being as corporate and white-collar as any other major Canadian city, they fancy themselves to be some sort of cowboy rebels of the west. In reality, they're Houston with less traffic. People actually brag about chinooks! Chinooks! Random warm days that break up a -20C winter. No wonder you schlubs make fun of Edmonton; comparing your city to them is the only way to make it look more liveable.
Gelinas kicked it in the net in 2004. It only looked over the line in 2015. Suck it.
Why You Might Not Suck
The Flames could probably get league-average goaltending out of Elliott; in this division, that's probably good enough for a playoff spot. Assuming they don't blow it on re-signing Gaudreau and Monahan, their first line is fine. Gaudreau should play in most games provided he gets his trigonometry homework done on time.