The Flames Files: Severing Ties With Sven
Well, it finally happened. The rocky relationship between the Calgary Flames and Sven Baertschi is now over. Since picking up the young Swiss winger in 2011 (ranked to be the seventh-best North American skater that year, and selected 13th overall by the Flames), the team and Baertschi just couldn’t seem to make things work.
Talented and highly touted, the team and the Calgary fanbase were excited about their three-year entry level acquisition in Baertschi. He showed promise; he was supposed to be the Flames’ next big thing. On the outside, Flames fans just couldn’t figure out what went wrong. For the amount of talk about his potential, the Flames constantly held him in the minors. During the few times that he was called up to play in the NHL (due mainly to several injuries that depleted their regular roster), Sven struggled. Instead of allowing him to find his legs on big ice for a longer, more steady amount of time, the team would often send him back to the minors after a one or two-game stint.
Perhaps it was the inconsistency of his play that management could not see past. In his first two seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, pre-Flames pickup, Baertschi was phenomenal. 67 goals in two seasons made him a close candidate for the WHL’s Rookie of the Year award.
Post-Flames signing, Baertschi’s production dropped drastically. With the Abbotsford Heat, he struggled to match his point totals, with his most successful season being the 2013-2014 season, at 13 goals. He played a total of 52 games as a member of the Calgary Flames, in which he only managed to score eight goals. With what some would call excessive professional stage fright, in addition suffering a neck injury and a concussion, the 22-year old’s status within the Flames’ young prospects greatly depreciated.
Undoubtedly, Baertschi yields a lot of untapped talent. And many blamed the Flames organization for hindering his talent, by lowering his confidence through the constant demotions back to the minors throughout the years. As a result of this, it has been speculated that there was friction between team management and Baertschi, which ultimately lead to his unwillingness to resign with the Flames.
Despite all the drama that seemed to have lasted a lifetime, Baertschi is only 22 years of age and can still whip up a promising and successful NHL career. After four years of trying, it is clear that this career will not flourish with the Flames.
In their only major move on deadline day, the Flames finally pulled the trigger and sent Sven Baertschi to the Vancouver Canucks. While it was the right move for both the team and the player, the Flames once again sold him short of his abilities, getting only one second-round pick in return.
While the Glencross trade benefits the Flames in the long run, the Baertschi trade seems incomplete, and has many up in arms over the way it was handled. In addition to the trade, it was announced on the same day that captain Mark Giordano will be out for the remainder of the season due to a torn bicep.
It is a significant dark cloud over the Flames’ plans to find themselves in a playoff spot, yet as they have proved several times this season, it is not time to count them out as of yet. If severing ties with Sven was needed in order to move forward in the rebuild (and at almost every angle, it seemed to be), then it had to be done. For Baertschi, it is a fresh start and a new opportunity to apply himself to his full potential.
Stay tuned for Week Nineteen of The Flames Files and follow the Calgary Flames’ progress in the 2014-2015 season.
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