Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flames Clean House, Have Jobs Available

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flames Clean House, Have Jobs Available

Article excerpt

There aren't many employment opportunities in Canada these days, but Alberta is something of an exception. It's only fitting, therefore, that the Calgary Flames are one of the few National Hockey League teams with plenty of jobs going begging.

Even though the Calgary management had no complaints about the team's second-place finish in the past regular season, the playoff performance was another matter. The Flames not only went quickly - in six games - they did so in embarrassing fashion, looking disoriented, heartless and confused, as they allowed nine goals in each of the two final losses.

As a result, hordes of players who were on the Flames' roster at the end of the season are gone, including Sergei Makarov, Brent Ashton, Chris Lindberg, Roger Johansson, Brian Skrudland, Craig Berube, Carey Wilson, Alexander Godynyuk and Greg Smyth.

That leaves lots of open spots because no front-line players were acquired in return, only draft picks. Skrudland and Godynyuk were lost outright in the expansion draft. Flame general manager Doug Risebrough was therefore forced to dip in the free-agent market - where he found Kelly Kisio for a mere $1 million or so a year - and throw open the doors to a bunch of draftees, castoffs, wannabees and Europeans.

German Titov, for instance, is a forward the Flames grabbed in the 10th round of the June draft. He went so late because he's 27 (but since he was out of hockey for three years, maybe it won't show). He played in Finland last year and has been satisfactory. Because he can play all three forward positions, he could make the team.

Vesa Viitakoski is another European who will be given every opportunity to win a job. However, Calgary coach Dave King is looking for consistency and Viitakoski scored two goals in the Flames' exhibition opener against Edmonton but was virtually invisible against Toronto Tuesday.

There's also Niklas Sundblad, the Flames' first pick in 1991. He's a physical player by Swedish standards and much is expected of him. …

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