Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Who said removing Darryl Sutter as head coach would remove all the drama surrounding the Calgary Flames? While things were admittedly much quieter around the team throughout training camp, Russian defenceman Nikita Zadorov had some extremely interesting comments on Tuesday morning where he seemed to call out several within the Flames dressing room.

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Zadorov’s comments come at a time when the Flames find themselves on a two-game losing streak and having won just one of their last five games. Clearly, some frustration is beginning to build, and according to Zadorov, it has to do with several playing as individuals rather than as a team.

Nikita Zadorov, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“We’re trying to figure out our identity,” Zadorov told reporters. “The main thing for us, we’re just not working as a unit yet. We have too many individuals playing by themselves. We’ve gotta figure out if we want to play as a team or if we want to play as our own guy.”

That wasn’t all Zadorov had to say, either. The 6-foot-4 blueliner also pointed to the fact that he and his teammates no longer have excuses, as Sutter is no longer around to direct the blame toward. Reading between the lines, it seems as though he is calling out certain individuals who may have attributed all of their struggles last season to their former head coach.

“Last season was different,” Zadorov said. “It was Darryl. Now there’s no Darryl, so there’s no excuses. You know what I mean? You guys don’t like hard coaches? You don’t like soft coaches? You don’t like good coaches? Fair. It’s a new-day league. You come up here, you play hard, and you leave everything on the ice. I think that’s how simple it is.”

While no one in the Flames dressing room is happy with how the team has performed as of late, not everyone believes Zadorov’s assertion that some are playing as individuals is correct. Nazem Kadri also spoke with reporters on Tuesday and seemed to disagree with Zadorov’s comments.

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“I don’t think it is,” Kadri said when asked if the Flames’ struggles had to do with individualistic play. “Of course, everyone’s trying to make plays, and sometimes I think when you’re down in games, you obviously have to be a little more risky, and that’s kind of bitten us a few times. We understand how to manage things and obviously, it’s a work in progress. A lot of things have been different this year, and sometimes it takes a little time to adjust. I think now we’re starting to get the hang of it, had a good pre-scout [for the New York Rangers], a good game plan, and we’re planning to execute.”

Nazem Kadri, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Huska, who was promoted this offseason to replace Sutter as the Flames head coach, echoed similar comments to Kadri in that it can take a team some time to adapt to new systems. He, too, doesn’t seem to think that their early struggles are a result of players not buying into a team-first mentality.

“No, it’s not individual mentality in regards to effort,” Huska said. “The issue that we talked about yesterday was how we managed the puck at times. That’s something that we have to do a better job of cleaning up. Oftentimes, that’s on an individual, but I wouldn’t say any individual effort-type things.

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“Sometimes it’s trying to do a bit too much. You get into stretches where you want to help the team win, or we’ve gotta find a way to get a goal at this point of a game, so you try a little bit too much instead of making the smart, simple play.”

Sutter May Not Have Been the Only Issue

While Kadri and Huska both did their best to prevent a media frenzy today, given Zadorov’s comments, it seems quite evident that not everyone in the dressing room is on the same page. No good can come from speculating on who Zadorov may have been alluding to in terms of individualistic play, but fans who tune into Flames games regularly should have a good idea. Whether those that Zadorov was referring to choose to change their play remains to be seen, but if the losses continue to pile on, it could be another drama-filled year for the Flames.

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The post Flames Locker Room Seems Divided Given Zadorov’s Comments appeared first on WorldNewsEra.


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