On Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, the Calgary Flames announced that starting goaltender Karri Ramo has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament as well as damage to the meniscus in his knee, and will be lost for the remainder of the season. The injury took place in the third period of a victory over the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 11, 2016. That alone would have been bad enough, but there is more.
Later in the day, on Feb. 17, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that a 20-game suspension to Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman will be upheld. The incident took place on Jan. 27, 2016 during a home game against the Nashville Predators. During the contest, Wideman deliberately cross-checked unsuspecting NHL linesman Don Henderson. The league has always had a firm stance when it comes to abuse of officials. The initial suspension was handed down on Feb. 3, but Wideman had appealed.
Last season, the Flames were a great story. Not expected to be a factor, the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2009, and then eliminated the Vancouver Canucks before losing to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round. With the emergence of Mark Giordano as a top defenseman and sensational rookie Johnny Gaudreau playing on the team’s top line with Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan, the Flames over-achieved.
As the 2015-16 season began, Calgary looked poised to take the next step, but that next step turned out to be a misstep. Considering the loss of Ramo and Wideman, making the playoffs this season, will take nothing short of a miracle.
The Los Angeles Kings lead the Pacific division, with the Anaheim Ducks just three points behind. The San Jose Sharks trail the Ducks by just one point. The Flames however, are now 12 points behind the third place San Jose Sharks, and have just 27 games regular season games remaining.
In the Western Conference wild card race, the Flames are trailing the Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche. The top three teams in each division qualify for the postseason, while the remaining two playoff spots go to the remaining teams with the two best overall records. At this moment, only the Edmonton Oilers have a worse overall record than does Calgary.
Last season, Calgary head coach Bob Hartley was named ‘Coach of the year’, Johnny Gaudreau was a a finalist for ‘rookie of the year’, and the team made the playoffs for the first time in five years. Just one season later, the team is scraping bottom and Hartley may be facing an uncertain future when the season ends.