The Calgary Flames’ 2022–23 season can be summarized in one word: disaster.
After entering the season with such lofty expectations as retooled Stanley Cup contenders, they are easily the biggest disappointment in the entire NHL 81 games and one playoff race elimination later. Sure you could look at other teams to share the moniker, but when comparing the moves made in the offseason, results from last year, as well as pure talent… the Flames fell flatter than most.
Which means that there can only be one thing coming this offseason: change.
Change is needed for Calgary
It has been whispered all season that if the Flames didn’t make the postseason that the dreaded change would be coming, but that time is here now and the argument should be made that the change needs to be widespread.
The main reason? This team’s hockey operations staff has simply been in the same position for far too long. Treading water only gets you so far, and after the season that was had it’s time to look up and down the entire organization in terms of where changes need to be made.
Long tenures and consistent mediocrity
You can switch the players up all you want season to season, but sometimes that doesn’t always work. Take a look at this offseason, the entire core of this team was pretty much gutted and yet the Flames are facing a similar result. At a certain point, the mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has to be thought about long and hard as a source of misguidance.
Now before diving into the potential moves and data, it’s imperative that we clarify something very important. All of these individuals have poured countless hours and passion into building this team into the best version it could be. The Flames organization has always prided itself on hiring quality human beings first and that applies to everyone on the list.
Sometimes things don’t work out, but that shouldn’t discount the care and dedication these people have poured into the Calgary Flames.
Most of the Flames’ hockey operations staff has been around for longer than most tenures last around the NHL:
|Staff||Current Job Title||First Season||# of Years with Flames|
|Brad Treliving||General Manager||2014–15||9|
|Craig Conroy||Assistant General Manager||2010–11||13|
|Brad Pascall||Assistant General Manager||2014–15||9|
|Chris Snow||Assistant General Manager||2010–11||13|
|Don Maloney||Senior VP, Hockey Operations||2016–17||7|
|Mike Burke||Director of Hockey Administration||1994–95||29|
|Ray Edwards||Director of Player Development||2016–17||7|
|Martin Gelinas||Development Coach||2012–13||10|
|Derek MacKinnon||Director, Pro Personnel||2014–15||9|
|Sean O’Brien||Director of Team Operations||2006–07||16|
|Darryl Sutter||Head Coach||2002–03||12*|
|Kirk Muller||Associate Coach||2021–22||2|
|Ryan Huska||Assistant Coach||2014–15 (Stockton)||9|
|Cail MacLean||Assistant Coach||2017–18 (Stockton)||6|
|Jordan Sigalet||Senior Goaltending Coach||2011–12 (Abbotsford)||11|
|Jason Labarbera||Goaltending Coach||2016–17 (Hitmen)||7|
|Jamie Pringle||Assistant Coach, Video||2011–12||12|
|Tod Button||Director, Amateur Scouting||1997–98||25|
|Fred Parker||Assistant Director of Scouting||2010–11||13|
|Rob Sumner||Assistant Director of Scouting||2011–12||12|
|Steve Pleau||Head Scout||2010–11||13|
|Jim Cummins||Amateur Scout||2011–12||12|
|Terry Doran||Amateur Scout||2014–15||9|
|Ari Haanpaa||Amateur Scout||2010–11||13|
|Allister MacNeil||Amateur Scout||2016–17||7|
Looking up and down the list of people, there are a few individuals that most likely are going nowhere based on history. Chris Snow absolutely will be a part of this organization next season and for as long as he is able. Craig Conroy has been working towards a promotion for many seasons now.
Outside of that, it’s time that the Flames got a fresh perspective across the board. Some staff members have been with this team and they have seen countless retools and rebuilds. After that amount of time, a fresh pair of eyes is needed.
Consider Brad Treliving who is wrapping up his ninth season with the team. Treliving has been one of the league’s better GMs during his tenure, but how many other GMs across the league have been given as many years and runway as he has?
The Flames scouting staff has remained largely consistent for many seasons, and despite a few strong selections, no one would put them at the top of the list in terms of most successful staffs.
After what has happened this season, it’s probably worth it to consider a wholesale change across the team to just try a different approach. The Flames have been stuck in mediocrity for too long to warrant another try.
It starts at the top
It’s all wishful thinking on our parts, as the change we all desire may not reach the magnitude we are hoping for. Reports have circled that outside of Darryl Sutter, most of the hockey operations staff are in need of new contracts. Perhaps the expiring of contracts is just the time to make some new changes.
That being said, most of that stems from the top in majority owner Murray Edwards. He controls a lot of this behind the scenes, and without his approval most of this won’t be done. Consistency is key in his books, which means he could be the stop gap from a major overhaul.
Now fans can wish that Ryan Reynolds swoops in and buys the team, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
The best thing that could happen to this franchise in the offseason is switching up how almost everything is done. Since whatever was being done the last thirty-some seasons surely hasn’t worked.