Unlike their rising stars to the north, where the excitement surrounding the youthful Edmonton Oilers is palpable and maybe even beyond rational exuberance, the Calgary Flames come into the shortened 2012-13 season dealing with the lowest of outside expectations. Sports oddsmakers have installed them as 50-1 long-shots to win the Stanley Cup and only three teams – the Columbus Blue Jackets, the New York Islanders and the Winnipeg Jets – face longer odds.
Their captain, Jarome Iginla, is – after all – a notorious slow starter, in a transitional year in which his contract is set to expire and nursing a minor groin pull. The player they signed to step in as their No. 1 centre, free-agent Roman Cervenka, is sidelined indefinitely with a blood clot is in his leg. Their newest sniper up front, Jiri Hudler, reported for duty Monday, and then informed the team he had to go back to the Czech Republic to deal with an illness to his father. There is a new coach, Bob Hartley, who could have used a real training camp to teach his systems and theories to the team, instead of having to introduce them on the fly.