Flames re­build af­ter the flood

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - SPORTS HOCKEY - Like city, lots of ren­o­va­tion go­ing on By Donna Spencer

CAL­GARY — The quick restora­tion of their home arena af­ter mas­sive flood­ing is a mes­sage for the re­build­ing Cal­gary Flames.

Less than three months af­ter the El­bow River de­stroyed ev­ery­thing be­low the eighth row of seats in the Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome, the arena was not only op­er­a­tional again, but the af­fected ar­eas are bright and pol­ished for the 2013- 14 NHL sea­son.

A team that hasn’t made the NHL play­offs in four sea­sons can use that ef­fort to in­spire their own turn­around.

“For the play­ers, we saw what hap­pened and the way the city came to­gether and the team that helped re­pair this arena,” Flames cen­tre Matt Sta­jan said.

“For sure, that’s some­thing we can use and can try do the same sort of thing, try and come to­gether quickly and make it work.”

When gen­eral man­ager Jay Feaster could fi­nally bring him­self to say the word “re­build” in July, he also said “the re­build doesn’t have to take for­ever when you get a group of guys who are com­mit­ted to the pro­gram.”

For the first time in al­most a decade, the Flames open a sea­son with­out goal­tender Mi­ikka Kipru­soff and long­time cap­tain Jarome Iginla.

Iginla, a 30- goal- or- more man for 11 of his 16 sea­sons in Cal­gary, was traded to Pitts­burgh in March. He has since signed with Bos­ton.

Kipru­soff, who played seven sea­sons as a Flame, re­tired dur­ing the off- sea­son.

The team’s iden­tity was tied to those two stars for so long, the Flames seem a much dif­fer­ent hockey team even though the club has re­tained sev­eral vet­er­ans.

“It feels dif­fer­ent this year,” ac­knowl­edged new cap­tain Mark Gior­dano. “We don’t have the goto su­per­star, the go- to guy.

“We have a lot of guys who have to have great years for our team to be good, but the work we’re putting in, the work ethic you see here, it’s a fresh look.”

Head coach Bob Hart­ley’s first sea­son with the Flames was short­ened by the lock­out. Cal­gary fin­ished 13th in the Western Con­fer­ence at 19- 25- 4.

Feaster, Cal­gary’s GM since 2011, will now an­swer to Brian Burke, the new vice- pres­i­dent of hockey op­er­a­tions.

The Flames open the reg­u­lar sea­son Oct. 3 in Wash­ing­ton fol­lowed by a stop in Colum­bus be­fore their home- opener Oct. 6 against Van­cou­ver. Cal­gary’s pre- sea­son record was 4- 2- 1.

Ren­o­va­tion The team’s ren­o­va­tion be­gan with Iginla’s de­par­ture fol­lowed closely by the trade of de­fence­man Jay Bouwmeester to St. Louis. De­fence­man Cory Sarich and winger Alex Tan­guay were dealt to Colorado in the sum­mer.

For­ward Ro­man Cer­venka headed to the KHL in­stead of re­turn­ing to Cal­gary for a sec­ond sea­son.

The Flames needed to get younger and big­ger, said Feaster.

He got for­ward David Jones and de­fence­man Shane O’Brien in the trade with the Avalanche. He moved draft picks to ac­quire three Al­berta- born play­ers: de­fence­man Kris Rus­sell from St. Louis, for­ward T. J. Galiardi from San Jose and for­ward Cor­ban Knight from Florida.

Knight was as­signed to the AHL’s Ab­bots­ford Heat along with for­wards Max Rein­hart and Michael Fer­land.

The Iginla and Bouwmeester deals yielded a pair of first- round draft picks at this year’s draft in ad­di­tion to Cal­gary’s No. 6 se­lec­tion, which the club used on for­ward Sean Mon­a­han.

The for­mer Wind­sor Spit­fire will start the sea­son with the Flames, while for­wards Emile Poirier ( 22nd) and Mor­gan Klim­chuk ( 28th) were re­turned to their ju­nior teams.


Ed­mon­ton Oiler Tay­lor Hall sends Chicago Black­hawk Johnny Oduya sprawl­ing. The Oil­ers are count­ing heav­ily on Hall this sea­son.

Bob Hart­ley

Jay Feaster

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