Friday, June 04, 2004

Put out the donation buckets!

If the Calgary Flames are smart, they’ll have donation buckets set up outside the Saddledome on Saturday night. With Darryl Sutter facing the wrath of Gary Bettman at the end of the season, the Flames may find that their fans will be more than willing to help defray the cost of any upcoming fine.

Sutter deflected the disappointment for the Flames from the game four loss, by taking the heat with some well timed comments about how no one wants the Flames to win this Stanley Cup. Whether he actually believes there is a conspiracy or not, it was a brilliant display of giving his players some space to concentrate on hockey.

His comments took over the sports pages and broadcasts on Wednesday and Thursday, nobody was talking about power play chances, stupid penalties, missed scoring chances, cheap goals or offensive breakdowns. There was no questioning of Flame strategy or broken systems. It was all about Darryl’s belief that forces were working against his team in their quest for Stanley.

It worked wonderfully, the team responded as their coach faced the wrath of the league. It has become an US against them atmosphere, one which has united the Flames even more than they have been through this playoff season.

By deflecting the media spotlight onto himself, Sutter gave his players the room to regroup and prepare. The result was a game five win in Tampa and a chance to win Stanley on home ice Saturday night. Here’s some advice for the Flames front office, hire some extra staff folks; you’ll need a few to count up the donations. Bring on the fine Gary, no doubt Flames fans will be ready to help out, you can take that to the bank.

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