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Hockey

Calgary Flames

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | 1998-99 Stats

Sports Illustrated Ranking: 22

By Kelley King

 
1998-99 Leaders
Stat Leader No.
Goals
Assists
Points
+/-
Shots
Ice time (F)
Ice time (D)
Faceoff Pct.
Hits
PP Pts.
SH Pts.
Jarome Iginla
Phil Housley
Cory Stillman
Todd Simpson
Valeri Bure
Andrew Cassels
Steve Smith
Andrew Cassels
Jason Wiemer
Phil Housley
Andrew Cassels
28
43
57
+18
260
19.0
22.5
50.2
171
24
4
Sports Illustrated Who knew that Grant Fuhr would one day be the source of inspiration, rather than humiliation, for the Flames? Fuhr, who spent the better part of his 18-year goaltending career shutting down Calgary en route to winning five Stanley Cups in Edmonton, was acquired by the Flames from the Blues for a third-round draft choice on Sept. 4. The move was an act of desperation by beleaguered general manager Al Coates to raise the spirits -- if not the steadily eroding ticket sales -- of a franchise that has spent the last three years near the bottom of the Western Conference.

The Flames, who were 30-40-12 last season, have been busy. They welcomed Fuhr, their 37-year-old erstwhile enemy, with open arms; traded (for better or worse) puck-hogging scoring leader Theo Fleury; and lost two unrestricted free agents, first-line center Andrew Cassels and starting goalie Ken Wregget. While Calgary boasts a veteran defense anchored by Steve Smith and Phil Housley, its offense is characterized by youth and inexperience. That can translate into an inability to execute: Witness a 12-game stretch last spring in which the Flames scored just 17 goals. At 29, Steve Dubinsky is Calgary's oldest forward; after 22-year-old wing Jarome Iginla, who had 28 goals last year, 25-year-old forward Cory Stillman (27 goals) is the Flames' most promising scoring threat.

"It would be a mistake to rely on one guy to come in and be the messiah," says Smith, Fuhr's former teammate with the Oilers. "But there's more confidence in our dressing room. Some had questioned our ability to win; now we believe we can." Such expectations put a huge weight on Fuhr's shoulders, which, like his recently rebuilt knees, are chronically aching. "A lot depends on how the body allows me to play," says Fuhr, who appeared in only 39 games for St. Louis last year, though he finished with a career-best 2.44 goals-against average. The backup netminder is 26-year-old Fred Brathwaite, who had been playing with the Canadian national team last season when a series of injuries struck the Flames' goalies and the team was forced to sign him. In 28 games with Calgary, Brathwaite had a 2.45 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

The team's best chance to compete for a postseason spot, however, rests with the indefatigable Fuhr. Smith, for one, believes that "Fuhr has the ability to win a hockey game on his own." If goals needed only to be prevented and not scored, the Flames might have finally found their redeemer.

Issue date: October 4, 1999

ALSO:
SI's Scouting Report Main Page
SI's Pierre McGuire Insider Rankings


BRIGHT SPOTS   GRAY AREAS
  • The all-rookie line of the team's last three No. 1 picks -- Daniel Tkachuk, Rico Fata and Oleg Saprykin -- has been impressive in camp and may end up being the No. 1 line.
  • G Grant Fuhr, who still makes his offseason home outside Edmonton, is reportedly feeling rejuvenated and may be reconsidering retirement after this season. His name brought some much-needed ticket sales and if he is happy and healthy, it could bring some extra wins.
  •  
  • The same small-market concerns still exist and the Flames may not be long for Calgary. Management needs to stretch every dollar and get this team into the playoffs.
  • Brian Sutter wants five or six more goals each from guys like C Jason Wiemer, C Jeff Shantz and LW Rene Corbet, and a combined 12 more from C Cory Stillman, RW Valerie Bure and RW Jarome Iginla (who was unsigned well into camp).
  • People, Places and Things
    GM: Al Coates
    Coach: Brian Sutter; 3rd year (56-81-17); 10th overall (329-278-93)
    Assistants: Rich Preston; Jamie Hislop
    Captain: Todd Simpson
    Last year: 30-40-12 (20th overall)
    Playoffs: None
    PP: 19th (14.3%)
    PK: 26th (79.8%)

    Get The Highlighter
    Sat., Oct. 2: Opening night at San Jose
    Wed., Oct. 6: Home opener vs. St. Louis
    Tue., Oct. 26: The Flames visit their old haunts in Atlanta
    Mon., Dec. 6: At Madison Square Garden to play Theo Fleury for the only time this season.

    Notable Number
    81: Combined goals for the trio of Jarome Iginla (28), Cory Stillman (27) and Valeri Bure (26). The rest of the team (excluding the departed Theo Fleury's 30) combined for only 100.

    Quoteworthy
    "Tomorrow isn't good enough around here anymore. The time is now. The Calgary Flames have to win hockey games this year, and lots of 'em early. By trading for Grant Fuhr, the organization is showing everyone -- including the players in here -- that they're serious about that." -- veteran defenseman Steve Smith



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