Fresh off a banner 2018-19 campaign that saw the Calgary Flames clinch their first division title in 13 years, the club finds itself reeling in the early goings of 2019-20, trudging through a six-game losing streak with their stars looking out of sorts.
Appearing to be nearing a breaking point, the Flames’ latest loss — a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the defending champion St. Louis Blues — prompted a players-only meeting Thursday to try and pin down the root of the team’s troubles.
“Just a lot of honesty between guys,” captain Mark Giordano said when asked what was discussed. “We all love each other in here, but at the end of the day, sometimes you have to be honest with the guys you’re closest to, and it’s a good thing.
“So, I think we’ll get together here again tonight at the team meal and hash it out, and hopefully we can get some real positives from hearing guys speak, and go from there.”
Star winger Johnny Gaudreau opted to keep what was said during the meeting between the players, but did echo his captain’s sentiments about needing collective improvement from everyone on the roster.
“Not fun. Obviously, it’s a bit difficult to go through. Yeah, it just sucks,” a visibly frustrated Gaudreau told reporters post-game. “…We’ve got to be better, we’ve got to work hard, be smarter with the puck. And we didn’t do that tonight, up and down the lineup. So, it’s frustrating.”
“Frustration would be the right word,” added head coach Bill Peters. Asked about his players opting for a closed-door meeting, Peters said his group could benefit from the type of honesty Giordano mentioned.
“You know what, that’s good that they did that here tonight,” he said. “It’s all about accountability, and holding each other accountable. The only way we can get out of it is by holding each other accountable and working together and finding solutions.”
With 25 games in the books, the Flames find themselves mired in the basement of their division with just 10 wins and 23 points overall. That leaves them three points out of a wild-card spot at the moment, with plenty of talented Western Conference clubs sitting above them.
“We know we have to be better collectively, as a group. And individually, obviously,” Giordano said of his club’s struggles. “But I think right now, we have a lot of guys who are trying so hard to be the one guy who will change the tide and change the momentum.
“We just need to know that it doesn’t work like that. We’re going to all do this together, dig out of this together.”