Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 11/17/11

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 03: Jarome Iginla #12 of the Calgary Flames during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on December 3, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Flames 2-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It has been two and a half years since the Calgary Flames last played in a postseason game. Due to one poor personnel move after another, the Flames have been on a downhill trend, and it isn’t going to get any better anytime soon. If the Flames want to get back to playoff-contending status, GM Jay Feaster and company should start a full-blown rebuild.

There is nothing special about this Flames club. Jarome Iginla hasn’t (consistently) been a ‘special’ player for a few years now. Miikka Kiprusoff hasn’t been a ‘special’ player since the 2006-07 season. While those two mainstays are still quality players, the Flames lineup is chock-full of mediocrity.

The Flames need to rebuild from the ground up. The longer Feaster waits, the longer the team will be stuck in their current state (or worse). And if they do ever decide to go forward with a rebuild – and it would not be a quick rebuild process, mind you – trading Iginla has to be a serious consideration.

Iginla, who is in his eighth season as the captain, isn’t getting any younger. At 34 years old, he’s starting to show signs that he’s wearing down; even though he scored 43 goals last season, he didn’t turn on the jets until the second half. Through Tuesday’s loss to Ottawa, Iginla has five goals in 17 games, a 24-goal pace.

From the Flames’ point of view, given Iginla’s contract, they have to think about maximizing this asset. Iginla’s contract has one year remaining ($7 million), which would obviously be attractive to numerous teams looking for an offensive boost not in the form of a rental. Iginla could still be an elite goal-scorer if he turns it around; remember: he has scored 30-plus goals in each of the last 10 seasons.

One could assume that the Flames would receive more in return for Iginla prior this season’s trade deadline rather than next year’s. The organization needs prospects/up-and-coming talent in the system. Iginla is the only player on the Flames roster that could bring back a hefty return, one that could kick start a rebuild.

The obstacle in dealing Iginla is his no-trade clause and stated desire to stay in Calgary. But as ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun points out, things currently aren’t so hunky-dory for the veteran forward:

The whispers out of Calgary are that the captain and the head coach may not be on the same page. Keep an eye on this one. Jarome Iginla has a no-trade clause and has never wanted to leave Calgary. But I wonder if this isn’t finally the year he says, “Enough is enough.’’ We’ll see.

Like LeBrun alluded to, at some point you have to wonder if Iginla would set aside his love for the Flames and city of Calgary to get a chance to play for a Stanley Cup contender. Before Iginla’s contract ends, I can guarantee you he will not win a Cup in Calgary. That window closed on the Flames two years ago.

A full-fledged rebuild wouldn’t just include trading Iginla. The Flames have some veterans they would need to get rid of (though their contracts wouldn’t be easy to rid). Rene Bourque, who was in trade rumors earlier this year, is a nice player for a fair price ($3.3 million). Kiprusoff, on the other hand, would be tougher to deal ($5.83 million).

That’s the problem Feaster faces if he goes the route of a rebuild. He’s in a terrible position. The organization needs prospects, but the Flames have an abundance of overpriced veterans and don’t have the cap space to make their team considerably better.

(Before I’d tear everything personnel-wise, though, I’d try out a new coach behind the bench. Brent Sutter is not the answer for Calgary. Things have not improved under his watch, and another playoff miss will likely cause Feaster to head in a different direction – if Sutter lasts that long as bench boss.)

Trading arguably the best player in the franchise’s history would be a tough sell by Feaster. (And I'm not saying they will.) But the reality is, the Flames are a shadow of what they once were. They are no longer a team that is feared by opponents. They are no longer a team that you can assume will make the playoffs. They are no longer a team that has an identity.

To get back to the stage where they were an annual playoff club in a rugged Western Conference, things are going to have to get worse before they get better.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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