As alluded to in yesterday’s 32 Thoughts episode, the Calgary Flames are hitting a major turning point in their season. Sitting at 2–6–1, and in the 31st spot in the NHL, it’s clear whatever they thought was going to work this season isn’t going to. That means that the team has some major decisions to make over the next few days and week, and as reported by Sportnet this morning that includes the pausing of all contract talks with pending free agents.
Flames heading in a different direction
Hold up, wait a minute. This is a new development that takes a massive U-turn from where the Flames were heading.
Eric Francis broke the news that all ongoing contract talks are now on hold for the organization, and a new approach may be looming. That means that Noah Hanifin contract that was close to being signed has been scrapped, Elias Lindholm’s big payday has been delayed, and additional talks with the likes of Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov will have to wait.
Francis was key to note in his report that this does not signal a rebuild:
“Not a tear-it-down rebuild as most are clamouring for, but a significant re-tooling that would almost certainly involve trading the aforementioned Flames pillars [Lindholm and Hanifin].”
This is good news and bad news depending on how you view the organization. Good that the team is acknowledging that this team as constructed just will not work, and committing long-term money to some players would be a poor financial decision.
But at the same time bad that there still seems to be hesitancy around a full rebuild. Now there is a very fine line between “significant re-tooling” and “rebuild”, which may be just the Flames’ way of saying we are tanking, but since they have never truly done that it’s safe to have some hesitancy.
It’s also just bad for everyone involved that the Flames are this bad this early. Fans are trying to give away tickets like they are flyers, the players once again seem disinterested in showing up to play, and the organization who thought they had a foolproof plan for the season is now having to head to the hospital for whiplash.
The season isn’t over, but it’s extremely close to being off the rails. If the team can make some surgical moves that help in the interim and long term then of course they should make them. But if that involves signing players to long-term expensive contracts, then the team has really lost its marbles.