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Q&A with Flames Blogger Hayley Mutch of Matchsticks and Gasoline

Hayley Mutch from SBN's Flames blog and I exchanged a few questions leading up to tonight's game in Calgary.

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Tonight marks the third time that the Ducks and Flames faceoff as Pacific Division rivals. What better way is there to get to know one of our relatively new neighbors than a little Q&A? So, big thanks to Hayley for answering my questions, and even more so for getting the puck moving on this exchange of ideas.

Question from Chris: At the beginning of the season there seemed to be some question as to whether Sean Monahan would stay up with the Flames or be sent back to Junior. How do you think he's stacked up so far and is his playing in the NHL the best thing for his development?

Answer from Hayley: So far so good for Sean Monahan, I don't think anyone expected him to stack up as well as he has so far this season! There was some debate about whether he should stay up with the team or be returned to junior and during the times when he has struggled there have been those who have argued that that would have been best for him, but so far the coaching staff has let him play it out when he's been struggling rather than scratching him or severely cutting down his ice time, seems to have been good for him, seeing as he's leading the team in goals. He is shooting 18% at the moment so fans can probably expect that to go down in his sophomore season, but after two seasons of leading the 67s I'm really not sure how he would stand to improve from spending any more time in junior.

Chris: Most of us here at Anaheim Calling have a special fondness for Brian Burke for obvious reasons, despite his name being dragged through the mud a bit with personal trade freezes etc. while in Toronto. How is he viewed among the Calgary fans so far in his short time there?

Hayley: Flames fans are cautious when it comes to Brian Burke being the GM of this team long-term. Even though he did good things in Anaheim, we also watched some of his questionable deals and signings torpedo the Maple Leafs and continue to do so after he was fired. His repeated emphasis on the fact that this team isn't big enough, the moves he's made already to 'remedy' that (such as bringing in Kevin Westgarth), and his belief that almost no one on the team is "untouchable" makes fans justifiably nervous about how he is going to manage Calgary's young players, prospects, and veteran assets, even if some of it is just his way of motivating the team somehow.

People aren't sure if he has the right philosophy to guide a rebuilding team with a focus on youth and skill like the Flames (or how the Flames should be) right now, and that's worrying. On the other hand, some of it is definitely paranoia on the part of fans of a rebuilding team with players that we covet and players that also represent still unknown quantities; most of us lived through the Darryl Sutter era and that of his predecessors where the team put little stock in building through the draft and taking care to treat the future of the franchise well. The way Burke handled himself on deadline day was quite satisfactory to many fans, and he has proven in the past that he is capable of getting a good return in trades. He was the one that stole Dion Phaneuf from right under our noses, after all. We know we should give him the benefit of the doubt, but Flames fans are vulnerable right now and we have trust issues.


Chris: Last weekend Joe Nieuwendyk was honored as "Forever a Flame" which seems to be a quasi-jersey retirement. The only two Flames (so far) that have their numbers truly retired are Lanny McDonald and Mike Vernon. Where does the distinction lie between those two groups and which one does Jerome Iginla belong in once he's done playing?

Hayley: The Flames are really weird about retiring jerseys, and I'm honestly not sure why they've chosen to do this "Forever a Flame" business over actual jersey retirement ceremonies, especially where players that were responsible for bringing them their one and only championship in franchise history are concerned. They've been reluctant to retire or otherwise honour Theo Fleury, which is odd considering he was the franchise leader in many categories before Jarome Iginla and made a touching comeback during the pre-season several years ago so that he could formally retire as a member of the Flames. I would sure hope that Iginla gets a proper jersey retirement when the time comes or there could be hell to pay for team management, whomever that might be down the road.

You can see my answers to her questions here.