Calgary Flames

Everything you need to know from the Calgary Flames’ locker clean out day

One of the best days of the year is when the Calgary Flames arrive for training camp. You see familiar faces and new ones, you get to hear how excited they are for the season, and you get to dream of endless possibilities for the months to come.

One of the worst days of the year is when the Flames have their locker clean out day; regardless of when that comes. It could be after a playoff run, or in the 2022–23 season’s case, after quite a failed season. 

Yesterday, over the course of several hours, the Flames had their final media availability of the season and boy, was it a depressing one. You knew the vibes were going to be off with everyone, but they were off by a country mile. There were only a few moments of levity on a day where everyone reflected on what a missed opportunity the last few months have been.

Here is everything you need to know from locker clean out day.

Contract statuses in disarray

The Flames have a few players whose contracts are up, or will be coming up, in the near future. The tone of how different players responded varied significantly. 

Nikita Zadorov, Troy Stecher and Michael Stone all spoke very positively about wanting to discuss a contract extension in the offseason. 

Tyler Toffoli seemed a little less optimistic—not overly confident about getting a deal done in the summer. 

Milan Lucic pretty much had his goodbye press conference today, where he was emotional and quite evident that he wasn’t returning to the team. 

Trevor Lewis’ status is directly linked to head coach Darryl Sutter, who we will get to later.

But, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, and Noah Hanifin all seemed down right negative about extending their contracts past next season. Backlund seemed exhausted and ready to move on, Lindholm set a fire under Flames fans seats by being extremely non-committal, while Hanifin seemed a mix of both. 

The organization has a number of decisions to make, but having some of their best players sound pessimistic about new deals surely isn’t going to inspire any confidence.

World Championship pedigree

The last piece of hockey that could be played this season by Flames players is at the World Championship later this spring. Those players ousted from the postseason gather together to earn bragging rights for their respective countries where some players are able to find their games.

The only confirmed Flames player going so far is MacKenzie Weegar who will represent Team Canada. Jonathan Huberdeau, Tyler Toffoli, and Andrew Mangiapane also noted that they were considering an offer to go play. Huberdeau and Mangiapane specifically would benefit the most from an appearance, after a season of lost confidence and confusion.

Other players that could head overseas to Latvia and Finland for the tournament could be Noah Hanifin and Blake Coleman for Team USA, Backlund and Jacob Markstrom for Team Sweden, Dan Vladar for Czechia, and Adam Ruzicka for Slovakia. 

There could be others, but there wasn’t any additional information given due to the rapidness of the media availability.

Banged and bruised

As it always is during this time of year, the list of injuries fully comes to light. For the Flames, they had a relatively healthy season when looking at their core players. The likes of Nazem Kadri and Chris Tanev obviously were battling something during the season, but didn’t reveal any additional information over their statuses.

The biggest news came from Rasmus Andersson, who is still reeling from the effects of his accident in Detroit earlier this season. He revealed that he is still recovering emotionally and physically from being hit by the vehicle, and most likely rushed himself back on the ice too soon. In a moment of transparency, Andersson clearly wanted to get back on the ice to help his teammates and as a result suffered some consequences.

Due to this, Andersson won’t be representing Team Sweden at the World Championships.

What wasn’t said

The biggest gap from yesterday was the absence of both Darryl Sutter and general manager Brad Treliving. The two individuals that clearly needed to answer the bulk of the questions had their media sessions delayed into early next week. 

More time to prepare answers, or more time to evaluate the status of both? My guess would be the latter, but both have always been open and transparent and most likely wanted to take som time in between the players exit interviews.

What questions will be asked?

Treliving needs to answer the biggest question: is he staying or is he going? The rest of the questions are not as significant.

Sutter on the other hand has a handful of questions that he will face quite directly. What was his relationship with some of the newer players? What was his decision making behind roster decisions? How will younger players be able to develop under him next season? Is he even going to return as head coach?

The questions are endless and there are surely more to come.

Quick hits

The other highlights, or lowlights, from the day that need to be called out:

  • Dillon Dube had Matthew Coronato stay at his house during his Calgary stay, and most likely did his homework for him
  • Weegar was very clear that the Flames need a new arena, even though the Saddledome has some character
  • Zadorov needs a bottle of Russian Vodka before talking existentially about the results of the season
  • Michael Sone would like to know sooner rather than later about a new contract

Until next week Flames fans, this offseason has potential for lots of change so buckle up.

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