Where do the veterans fit in Flames’ rebuilding plan?


Tanguay admits he was flat after Iginla, Bouwmeester were traded

Calgary Flames veteran Alex Tanguay signs an autograph for fan Jeannette Wilson on Sunday.

Calgary Flames veteran Alex Tanguay signs an autograph for fan Jeannette Wilson on Sunday.

Photograph by: Lorraine Hjalte, Calgary Herald

Looking back on a shortened season, Alex Tanguay gives himself a failing grade for focus during times of turbulence for the Calgary Flames.

The veteran left winger candidly admits he struggled to stay on task with one of his best friends, captain Jarome Iginla, and defenceman Jay Bouwmeester on the verge of moving to playoff contenders at the NHL trade deadline.

“I was playing pretty good the first 20 to 25 games of the year, and then when the distraction came about, I think mentally I got a little bit affected by it,” Tanguay volunteered Sunday. “And that’s on me. You have to be a professional. You have to play your best every night.

“But I’ve got some good years of hockey ahead of me, and I’m hoping that I can be a key contributor in this organization.”

With the Flames at the beginning of what amounts to a massive youth movement, the annual garbage-bag day festivities took on a different tone for veterans like Tanguay, Michael Cammalleri, Cory Sarich, and Curtis Glencross.

Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, NHL teams will each get two amnesty buyouts to help them adjust to the new $64.3 million salary cap. The team must still pay the bought out players two-thirds the amount left on their contract, but that money does not count toward the salary cap.

The buyout period starts this summer and also comes up in the summer of 2014. Teams can buy out two players in one year or spread them out.

Change is clearly in the wind at the Saddledome via buyout, possible trade, and even retirement in the case of Miikka Kiprusoff.

“With the money that’s available in the summer and the capacity of this franchise with the money they have and the ownership saying they’re willing to spend money, I wouldn’t see why this team wouldn’t be competitive in the very near future,” said Tanguay, who has three years remaining on his contract at $3.5 million a season. “And certainly, that’s my hope for this team, and that’s what I think is very possible.

“There’s so much parity in this league. You look at a team like Montreal . . . which last year finished like 28th or 29th. And now, they’re battling in the playoffs.”

The Montreal case study gives the Flames — and their fans — reason to believe in the possibility of a turnaround in short order.

“Too many years in a row here we’ve missed the playoffs,” Glencross said. “They’re going to do some work this summer to make sure it’s the last time in a while, hopefully and go from there . . .

“I think we want to get bigger and more gritty and we’ll need a new goaltender in here, probably, and a few things like that.”

Defenceman Cory Sarich, for one, has no idea how he fits in the plans moving forward.

“You want to be wanted,” Sarich, 34, said after his exit interviews with the coaching staff and management. “That was my point today in having a few discussions. If people want you, then I want to be there.”

A healthy scratch in the early part of this season, Sarich has another year left on his deal at $2 million.

“For me, Calgary is home,” he said. “I love it here. I love representing the Flames. But again, the feeling has to be reciprocated.”

Michael Cammalleri is headed to the dentist this morning to have posts inserted where his front teeth were before a Steven Stamkos shot caused major damage during a lockout training session in Toronto.

With one more year at $6 million left on his deal, Cammalleri has no idea if he’ll be back for another season with the Flames.

“I do first of all like playing in Calgary,” he said. “In today’s game, we’ve seen teams turn things around fairly quickly, and we’ll always hold onto optimism . . .

“I’d like to be where my services are needed and appreciated . . . First of all, it’s not my decision. I don’t have a no-move clause. Second of all, it’s a decision that has a lot more to do with where management and coaching staff sees our group and sees me fitting in.”

And so the annual post-mortem is in full swing for a Flames team outside the playoff picture for the fourth year running.

“You want to win,” Tanguay said. “You play this game because you want to win. You want to be competitive, and you want to give yourself that chance.

“I think in his day and age in the NHL, anything is possible.”


Calgary Flames veteran Alex Tanguay signs an autograph for fan Jeannette Wilson on Sunday.

Calgary Flames veteran Alex Tanguay signs an autograph for fan Jeannette Wilson on Sunday.

Photograph by: Lorraine Hjalte, Calgary Herald

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