The Calgary Flames made headlines in the NHL (it usually never happens) twice this past week. First of all, Brian Burke was hired as the “President of Hockey Operations,” and longtime goaltender Miikka Kipprusoff called it a career and retired.
If you don’t know, Burke is quite a notorious figure in the hockey world. His media interviews are quite hilarious, due to the fact that he’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind, and doesn’t sugarcoat it either. His notoriety is also due to the fact that he’s been on several teams serving various positions before, most notably as the General Manager. His moves always attract a lot of attention, and are among the most heavily critically analyzed by the hockey world. All in all, he’s a pretty big guy in the hockey community. How do I feel about the addition of him to the Flames? I’m not quite sure. Going through forums, the hockey world seems to be evenly divided into those who love Burke, and those who hate him. On my part, I can only recall good things he’s done for teams (really, really good things – Vancouver’s dominance for the past decade are due to the fact he managed to draft both Sedins; a large portion of the Anaheim team that won the Cup in ’07 were because of moves by him; and thanks to his many criticized moves, the Leafs made the Playoffs for the first time in a decade), and I hope that trend continues in Calgary. I will say this: I think it’s good that GM Jay Feaster will report to Burke, because it means that Feaster now has incredible pressure placed on him to perform well, and also a seasoned man to refer to for the management of a rebuilding team.
In other news for the Flames, goaltender Miikka Kipprusoff officially announced his retirement. It was a quiet ordeal, as it had been expected for a few months. My thoughts? Kipper was a great goalie for the Flames. Ever since he came in ’03-04, he’s been a major cornerstone of the franchise. The cup run in the year he came was due largely to him. A HUGE percentage of games won by the Flames with Kipprusoff in net was because he stood on his head each game, and kept us in there. He was an absolute workhorse, too; he played more than 70 games in all but one season with us. He didn’t have exceptional numbers all the time, but average numbers; those are misguiding, as the team around him was usually horrendous when it came to helping him out. The Unflappable Finn was a fan favorite, and he will be sorely missed by all Flames fans. Rare was the loss that could be pinned solely on Kipprusoff. However, in his last year with the Flames, he was terrible; it was better to have him out of the net than in it. He won’t be remembered for that though; his legacy in Calgary won’t be forgotten for a long time. I feel really bad that he couldn’t win a Stanley Cup in his career; if ever there was a deserving goaltender, it was him.
Quite honestly speaking, the short-term future of the team looks bleak. I’m hoping the addition of an experienced man like Burke will speed up the rebuiliding process. He’s said that he’ll be serving behind-the-scene roles, but we’ll see how that pans out. As for Kipper, the man will be missed; he leaves a definite gap not only in the team roster, but in the very face of the franchise.