Time for Flames to be more careful | Hockey | CBC Sports

NHLTime for Flames to be more careful

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 | 11:37 PM

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Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster speaks to the media Wednesday following the team's announcement of trading captain Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster speaks to the media Wednesday following the team's announcement of trading captain Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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It isn't exactly brilliant analysis that this is a critical time for Calgary in the wake of the Jarome Iginla deal, Jay Bouwmeester could be next, and who knows about Miikka Kiprusoff or anyone else. They're the biggest decisions this organization is making in years.
Ultimately, it came down to this: the Calgary Flames wanted to end the circus. There was not going to be a two-week, three-show-a-day Barnum & Bailey extravaganza.

Considering that Jay Feaster revealed Wednesday night Jarome Iginla was first asked about the possibility of a trade one month ago, it's an Easter miracle news didn't leak sooner. The organizational strategy of refusing to comment was smart. But once things got out there, the situation was overwhelming.

As the Twitter maelstrom swirled, it became clear Los Angeles was out. Look what Boston offered (Alexander Khokhlachev, Matt Bartkowski and a first-round pick). Look what Pittsburgh gave up (Ken Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a first-round pick). Anyone believing Jonathan Bernier was going to be traded for Iginla was living in Fantasyland.

Reading between the lines

And, you may have heard that the Bruins were considered the favourite. As we all learned, so did they.

"We were informed around noon yesterday that we had the player, we won the sweepstakes, so to speak," said Boston GM Peter Chiarelli.  Although he added the Flames said they needed to discuss with Iginla "the logistics of everything...We operated on the premise we had a deal.

"I was assured that the list was of teams that he would go to and waive his no-trade."

Twelve hours later, Chiarelli learned his trade was non-existent. He said he requested the opportunity to speak to Iginla, which was denied. (Jay Feaster did not respond to a request for comment, which has been regular practice the last few days.)

So, what happened here?

A lot of the debate centres around Iginla's "list." This is the way NHL Central Registry -- which approves all transactions -- looks at it. If someone has a no-trade or no-move clause, nothing can be completed unless that player has submitted written approval to waive it.

For example, the Bruins once failed to close a deadline-day deal for Keith Tkachuk because the paperwork was late. So, as far as the rules are concerned, until Jarome Iginla files something with the NHL saying he has agreed to waive his no-move clause to go to Boston, there is no deal.

And that is his right.

Without Feaster (or anyone else from the Flames) willing to comment about what happened, it's impossible to determine the exact nature of conversations between the organization and its most iconic player. But after talking with one agent (not Iginla's) and one executive about it, here's an outline of the way these things generally work:

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Unless there's a humanitarian reason for sending someone to a particular team, the GM always asks for more than one potential destination. That drives up your market. But, it usually comes with a promise. Before any trade is complete, the GM makes a final check with the player.

The agent explained one situation (he asked the client's name not be used) that went exactly to this scenario. When the trade was about to be made, the team said it had two offers, with the worse return coming from the client's preferred club.

The GM went back to the agent and explained the situation. He then asked where the player wanted to go. Response: the organization making the worse offer. The GM did it in exchange for the player's decision to waive and open cap room.

"You don't forget when someone treats you right like that," the agent said.

Feaster said Wednesday night the final destination was Iginla's choice, so you have to believe the same thing happened in Calgary. Considering his status, that was the proper thing to do.

But that doesn't explain what happened to Boston. There've been many occasions where players were pulled from games before being traded. Ron Wilson used to joke about the night Joe Thornton was dealt, being told in warmup to get guys off the ice.

We saw what happened to Mike Cammalleri last season. But guys being sat down and then not going anywhere?

That's a new one. And you can understand why Chiarelli would be furious. Any team would, including Calgary if it happened to them. You never know how a player -- especially a 19-year-old like Khokhlachev -- will react to that. It's why GMs freak at trade rumours and the Flames themselves went into the Cone of Silence.

As much as these clubs want to clobber each other, it gets very difficult to do business when you are not trusted.

Critical time

It isn't exactly brilliant analysis that this is a critical time for Calgary. Jay Bouwmeester could be the next to leave, and who knows about Miikka Kiprusoff or anyone else. You can call it a rebuild, a relaunch, a rejuvenation, whatever. These are the biggest decisions this organization is making in years.

First, there was a near-fiasco with the Ryan O'Reilly offer sheet. Now this. Iginla held the hammer, so it shouldn't be a surprise Calgary didn't get Pittsburgh's best prospects.

But I'm a big believer that the best organizations work like the perfect machine. No matter what happens, no matter what curveball life throws at them, they adjust almost seamlessly. You might be working like crazy behind the scenes, but, in the public eye, it's all cool.

That's not happening in southern Alberta. Nothing seems to occur without controversy or confusion. You can't have that, especially now.

Feaster's the front man, so he gets the blame. That comes with the job. But, is it deeper than that? Is this an organizational issue? Is it something or someone the public doesn't see?

These are important questions that need to be answered. This is the future of the franchise.

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