A GM's Carol: The Ghost of Aging Veterans

JP Nikota
September 07 2011 01:03PM

On a sweatstained duvet cover, Jay Feaster tosses and turns fitfully. Suddenly, his window blows open and in drifts a ghostly spectre.

"What do you want from me?! Why are you haunting me?! Why do you look like Jarome Iginla?"

"I'm here to show you what your star player is dealing with. You'll accompany me as we see that he shares your restless slumber."

The apparition and Feaster, after a lot of effort on behalf of the ghost, begin to float out to Jarome Iginla's homestead.

"Take a good look at the stress that you've caused this great Canadian hero Jay"

“The jersey! The sweater! It won’t come off!”

“NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo!”

Jarome woke up to find himself thrashing around inside of his bed sheets, momentarily unable to free himself. Sweaty, cold, and disoriented, it took a moment for his startled wife, Kara, to calm him down.

“Jarome! It’s OK! It’s OK! Look at me! It’s OK! It was just a bad dream!”

“It was that same dream again! I was 38, missing the playoffs, and wearing a Sundin jersey that I couldn’t take off! But this time, a… this… mysterious, spectral figure told me a prophesy!”

Kara looked at her husband with a mix of concern and pity, muttered “You’ll win that Cup eventually”, and rolled over.

"By no means would even I, this all-knowing spectral figure, attempt to dictate the future to a man that has control over his own destiny, but a chilling scene it would be, the day “Iggy” left the rink for good, without a Stanley Cup ring in his possession. A Stanley Cup, he can win, but not with this Calgary Flames team, thinks I. You see, I am the Ghost of Aging Veterans, and I come with alarming news. Unless the Calgary Flames change their ways, and perhaps more to the point, their players, they shall not win a Cup."

"Huh?" *Eats a turducken in three bites*

"Certainly, there are teams that have won the Cup with many veterans in the lineup – why, just last year, a man in his forties, Mark Recchi took home the big trophy with the B’s. And what of the average age of the rosters? Here are the Cup winning rosters’ average ages, and the average age of Calgary on June 15th, 2012 (the date that the Bruins won last year)"

Team

Average Age

Boston

27.03

Chicago

26.06

Pittsburgh

27.15

Detroit

29.45

Anaheim

27.6

Carolina

28.03

AVERAGE

27.57

Calgary

29.69

"Hmmm… they are older, these Flames. It rather reminds me of another aging group of vets that I saw shortly after the lockout: the 2005-08 Toronto Maple Leafs. Sundin always did deserve better, but his loyalty to the team, while admirable, kept him in Toronto for too long. You see, the Flames have a lot of important members that are already on the wrong side of 26 (the peak age for production by most measures), and Iggy, like Sundin won’t carry a whole team on his back much longer. Here's a look at the core of the team and their ages"

Player

Age

NTC/NMC

Babchuk, Anton

27

NTC

Bourque, Rene

29

Modified NMC

Bouwmeester, Jay

27

NTC

Giordano, Mark

27

NTC/NMC

Glencross, Curtis

28

No

Hagman, Niklas

31

No

Hannan, Scott

32

No

Iginla, Jerome

34

NMC

Ivanans, Ratis

32

No

Jackman, Tim

29

No

Jokinen, Olli

32

No

Karlssen, Henrik

27

No

Kiprusoff, Mikka

34

NMC

Kostopolous, Tom

32

No

Morrison, Brendan

36

No

Moss, David

29

No

Sarich, Cory

33

NMC

Stajan, Matt

27

Modified NMC

Stempniak, Lee

28

No

Tanguay, Alex

31

Modified NMC

"That's the team that is going to finish above the Oilers for at least one more year bud."

"That’s an old core, Jay. The above-listed group includes 12 out of the Flames’ top 15 skaters, as sorted by TOI/60. Oh, and don’t forget that Scott Hannan has been brought in to replace Regehr, so they’ve replaced one old boy with another. Given the number of NMC’s and NMC’s, this group isn’t keen on being shipped out for younger players, prospects, or picks, either. It does happen, of course, but… really? Lee Stempniak?"

"He scored 14 goals in 14 games once Mr. Ghost so stick that in your...errr...bony something or other and smoke it. Plus, Iggy had 86 points last year. He still has more gas in the tank than that Sundin character."

"Now, Iginla had 86 points last year. It’s not as though his goal-scoring abilities are going to dry up overnight, and that’s great news for the Flames. But it’s tough to say how much longer he can keep it up. Here’s a graph showing the number of 30-goal seasons by an individual player from 1967 through last season"

"That’s right. Not a pretty picture. Let me leave you with one last thought: how many goalkeepers put up better than a .910 save percentage and played more than 30 games in one season since the '67 expansion? Well, the sample size is smaller, but basically, we're looking at a grim outlook for a goalie turning 35."

"Please, heed the warnings of math, good sense, and the Ghost of Aging Veterans. Re-build this team Jay"

"What was that? Sorry, I was thinking about that turducken..."

D84a93f7cd388193e2fcf402ddc4805f
Follow me on Twitter @JPNikota
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#51 ChinookArch
September 08 2011, 07:34AM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

Ivanans, like Colton Orr for the Leafs, is probably assured a spot on the team if he is healthy which is why he was included.

If if that was true, how does that make him a core player?

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#52 Pension Plan Puppets
September 08 2011, 07:36AM
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@ChinookArch

hahaha I'm not sure if the concept flew completely over your head or if you just got your back up because we're not from Calgary but the entire point is that we're looking at where the Leafs failed and trying to find parallels to the Flames' situation. We've looked at our glass house and thrown rocks at it.

Last year's standings:

Calgary (putative Stanley Cup contender in no way interested in a rebuild) - 94 points

Toronto (rebuilding team, one of the youngest in the league) - 85 points.

That's not much daylight and one team at least is trending downward.

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#53 Pension Plan Puppets
September 08 2011, 07:37AM
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@ChinookArch

Because he's not going to be cut loose. Same as Orr. And it's a really minute aspect of the entire post.

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#54 SmellOfVictory
September 08 2011, 08:22AM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

Who was the last big UFA to pick Calgary?

They aren't picking Toronto either.

The Langkow-Stempniak trade lowered the age but also lowered the quality of the team.

Jay Bouwmeester, technically.

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#55 ChinookArch
September 08 2011, 08:29AM
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@Pension Plan Puppets

A team's core is not made up by the entire team, just the most important parts. The reason we're debating this is because JP (purposely) left Calgary's youngest player (Backlund) and is trying to sell Ivanans as an important part of the Flames (a guy that wore a Flames jersey for all of 30 seconds). Clearly, he did so to make the average seem higher than it already is. Don't expect anyone at FN to drink the Kool-aide.

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#56 Danny Gray
September 08 2011, 08:56AM
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@ChinookArch

Some people are not as familiar with the Flames as you. It wasn't a intentional omission. Relax.

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#57 RexLibris
September 08 2011, 10:00AM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Jay Bouwmeester, technically.

That's not really helping the argument. An overpaid underperforming player with a NTC.

And if you want to be entirely technical it was a sign and trade where more pieces of Calgary's future were moved. Granted, Florida didn't exaclty walk away with a huge win in the trade, but they were pieces nonetheless.

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#59 Pension Plan Puppets
September 08 2011, 08:07PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Jay Bouwmeester, technically.

Good call. Forgot that one.

And that's a local(ish) boy choosing to come home which everyone always says will happen in Toronto and it never does.

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#60 Pension Plan Puppets
September 08 2011, 08:08PM
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@ChinookArch

He counted the ages of all of the players in his calculations. That table just highlighted that so many of the players are old.

There's no kool-aid in pointing out that the team's average age is almost 30.

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#61 Pension Plan Puppets
September 08 2011, 08:09PM
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@RexLibris

Yeah it's worked out that way but just like Richards (who will be a huge bust) he was one of the biggest names and chose Calgary.

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