“I have a lot of faith in the players” – The Athletic

It was 332 days ago, after the final game of last season, that the Calgary Flames faced an all-too-familiar choice: stick with their core group of players or take a drastic step to change them.

In a division that would offer a Canadian team the easiest path ever to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flames faltered and eventually missed the playoffs in a season that included several low points, including — a rumored dressing room crack, a Swap request and a coach change. During the day players cleaned up their lockers, general manager Brad Treliving said “for the first time” the club “needed to have some tough conversations about where we’re going with the group”.

The big shapeshifting moves that fans were hoping for never came. The Flames stayed with Johnny Gaudreau. You lost Mark Giordano. With Darryl Sutter signed behind the bench, they opted for players with grit and playoff experience in offseason trades and signings.

Sutter held the team more accountable. He gave the Flames an identity and goals to achieve throughout the season. The big goal was what came on Saturday afternoon: The “x” next to the Flames in the overall standings. Aside from the 2020 bubble playoff appearance, Saturday was the night most fans and pundits didn’t see coming.

“We made the playoffs two weeks before the end of the season. Our goal was to make the playoffs and bringing home the ice is pretty awesome. I have a lot of faith in the players,” said Sutter after the Flames’ 9-1 win over the Coyotes on Saturday. “I have a lot of faith in the players” – The Athletic

Olly Dawes

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