One story that has not been adequately reported is the fact that the Calgary Flames, a team in a tight race for the Northwest Division, has been playing games with less than a full roster. The problem is that they have so little salary cap room that they have not been able to afford to dress a full lineup. Three defencemen, Robyn Regehr, Adrian Aucoin and Cory Sarich all suffered injuries, but none are serious enough to go on the long-term disabled list (especially given the fact this would keep them out of the beginning games of the Stanley Cup playoffs). The Calgary Flames have played their last three games with less than a full roster. They played last Friday’s game against Minnesota with only 16 skaters (instead of 18) and predictably lost 4-0. They played Monday and Tuesday’s games, against Los Angeles and Vancouver respectively, with 17 skaters. Amazingly they defeated Los Angeles 4-1, but lost to Vancouver also by a 4-1 score.
Dustin Boyd currently in the minors for salary cap reasons. Boyd has been a solid forward for the Flames with 22 points so far this season. He is somebody who can be sent to the minors without worrying about waivers, so he is their salary cap sacrifice. He is the final player the Flames would like to have in their line-up to dress a full roster.
Calgary has other players who are not playing with the team for salary cap reasons. Anders Eriksson has been in the minors all season. Rhett Warrener has been on the long term disabled list all season and Wayne Primeau has been there since December. They managed to ship Marcus Nilson off to the KHL to play with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv to get his contract off their books. Despite all these moves, Calgary still does not have salary cap space to dress a full roster. GM Darryl Sutter should take a lot of blame for that. His team is in a tight race for their division lead and due to his mistakes, they cannot even dress a full roster.
Amazingly, the mainstream media has been silent about this. There is no story on tsn.ca about this. The NHL is doing its best to hide the story. The only mainstream media story on the issue that I can find is from the Globe and Mail. As a result, this story has not received the attention it deserves from the blogosphere (although Tom Benjamin and Five Hole Fanaticsdo give it a go).
Isn’t the story of a team fighting for the division lead but forced to do so with less than a full roster important? Is the fact the NHL is getting less than a best effort from the Calgary Flames in this important time due to some arbitrary salary rules an embarrassment that they want to cover up? Calgary has not dressed a full roster in some important games and very few people have even noticed.