Fixing The Net

After some unlucky injuries to goalie Roman Turek in 2004, the Calgary Flames traded for a third string goaltender from San Jose Sharks by the name of Miikka Kiprusoff. Very few knew who he was or what he would become. Kipper, as he became to be known, then took the flames on a magical 2004 Stanley cup run that saw the Flames fall one game shy of becoming the 2004 cup champs. It was a beautiful run that most Flames fans will always remember. For the next 8 years, being a Flame, Kipper did amazing things including a 2006 Vezina Trophy win being a fan favorite year after year. Kipper also made the goalie decision very easy over that 8 years, but alas that could not last forever and in 2012 Kipper retired and thus became the question, ho is going to patrol the crease now?

Flames deployed a number of goalies to back up Kipper over that span, maybe one of them would take the rains. Brain Boucher, Curtis McElhinney, and Vesa Toskala, not names that really jump out at you and neither did their play between the pipes. Flames top goalie prospect Leland Irving seemed to be in line for the job, but never seemed to grab the bull by the horns and take advantage of the opportunity. So plan what was plan B? GM Jay Fester pulled the trigger twice on trades ,sending Jay Bouwmeester to the Blues for a package that included G Reto Berra and later getting G Karri Ramo from the Habs. So in 2013 Flames looked to be set with Berra, Ramo and recently signed Joey MacDonald. However, 2013 did not go so well, which lead the flames to part ways with GM Fester, trading away Berra and not resigning MacDonald. Intern GM Brain Burke would make, at the time, considered a splash into the FA pool getting G Jonas Hiller.

Hiller would team up with Ramo and surprise a few leading the Flames into the 2015 Stanley cup playoffs second round. Fans were excited and ready to go, but then struck 2016 season. Flames goaltending was horrendous in 2016, finishing 30th in the league among goaltender stats. A hot mess that not even highly touted Joni Ortio could fix when he got the call to play when Ramo was injured. Flames entered last off-sesason with zero goalies and GM Brad Treliving took to trades and the FA market to fill and try to fix the goaltending. Trying to find an answer to the below average goalies that have tried and failed in Calgary. Trading for Brian Elliott and signing home town boy Chad Johnson, on the surface it looked as if goaltending would be a strength of the team. After a tough start to the year it seemed the duo figured it out. In November Chad Johnson got hot and helped the team stay in the hunt for the playoffs. Then Brian Elliott broke out and found his game and helped the Flames get back to the post season. Disaster soon struck. The 2017 playoffs were less than ideal for the Brian Elliott. Bad untimely goals led to the Flames getting swept, which left fans and the Flames brass wondering what to do in goal. Seemed to be the same story yet again.

With both Elliott and Johnson set to hit the free agent market the pressure was now on the Flames GM to make a decision, and that’s just what happened on  June 17, 2017. Flames used pending UFA Johnson to help acquire G Mike Smith from the Coyotes and not long after June 29, 2017 they acquired G Eddie Lack from the Hurricanes. Th Lack acquiring was a move that would mean Brian Elliott would hit the market. He would later sign with the Flyers. So a renewed sense of excitement once again has now hit Calgary and the Flames fan base. Full of expectations, both Smith and Lack seem to be ready to take on the challenge of being the Flames goalies. A burden welcomed by both guys.

The question is now, are these guy the answer? Smith and Lack become the 12th and 13th netminders employed by the Flames since Miikka Kiprusoff. So did Calgary finally solve the issue that has been a major story line since the retirement of Kipper? Only time will tell.



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Aspiring Play by Play guy, also working on my craft has a sports writer

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