22 Calgary Flames

October 03, 1999

Who knew that Grant Fuhr would one day be the source of
inspiration, rather than humiliation, for the Flames? Fuhr, who
spent the better part of his 18-year goaltending career shutting
down Calgary en route to winning five Stanley Cups in Edmonton,
was acquired by the Flames from the Blues for a third-round
draft choice on Sept. 4. The move was an act of desperation by
beleaguered general manager Al Coates to raise the spirits--if
not the steadily eroding ticket sales--of a franchise that has
spent the last three years near the bottom of the Western
Conference.

The Flames, who were 30-40-12 last season, have been busy. They
welcomed Fuhr, their 37-year-old erstwhile enemy, with open
arms; traded (for better or worse) puck-hogging scoring leader
Theo Fleury; and lost two unrestricted free agents, first-line
center Andrew Cassels and starting goalie Ken Wregget. While
Calgary boasts a veteran defense anchored by Steve Smith and
Phil Housley, its offense is characterized by youth and
inexperience. That can translate into an inability to execute:
Witness a 12-game stretch last spring in which the Flames scored
just 17 goals. At 29, Steve Dubinsky is Calgary's oldest
forward; after 22-year-old wing Jarome Iginla, who had 28 goals
last year, 25-year-old forward Cory Stillman (27 goals) is the
Flames' most promising scoring threat.

"It would be a mistake to rely on one guy to come in and be the
messiah," says Smith, Fuhr's former teammate with the Oilers.
"But there's more confidence in our dressing room. Some had
questioned our ability to win; now we believe we can." Such
expectations put a huge weight on Fuhr's shoulders, which, like
his recently rebuilt knees, are chronically aching. "A lot
depends on how the body allows me to play," says Fuhr, who
appeared in only 39 games for St. Louis last year, though he
finished with a career-best 2.44 goals-against average. The
backup netminder is 26-year-old Fred Brathwaite, who had been
playing with the Canadian national team last season when a
series of injuries struck the Flames' goalies and the team was
forced to sign him. In 28 games with Calgary, Brathwaite had a
2.45 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

The team's best chance to compete for a postseason spot,
however, rests with the indefatigable Fuhr. Smith, for one,
believes that "Fuhr has the ability to win a hockey game on his
own." If goals needed only to be prevented and not scored, the
Flames might have finally found their redeemer.

--Kelley King

FAST FACT
In his 18-year career with five teams, Calgary's Grant Fuhr has
allowed more goals to the Flames (234) than to any other NHL
team. Fuhr's 60 decisions (28-20-12) against Calgary is also the
most he has against any club.

[INSIDER]

CATEGORY SI RANKING SKINNY

OFFENSE 21 Stillman, Bure, Iginla lead undistinguished
group
DEFENSE 22 Sometimes too aggressive for its own good
GOALTENDING 17 If healthy, Fuhr still can be an impact
goalie
SPECIAL TEAMS 23 Morris and Housley are top point men for
power play
COACHING 21 Veteran staff gets best from this young team

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)