Instead of preparing for Game 2 of a second round series against the Detroit Red Wings, the Calgary Flames will clean out their lockers at the Pengrowth Saddledome today.

With a win in Game 7 in San Jose against the Sharks on Tuesday night, the Flames would have punched their ticket into the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Instead, they lost 5-3 and were ousted in the opening round of the playoffs for the third straight season.

Like every off-season, many questions surround the future of several members of the Flames although the key core of captain Jarome Iginla, goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and defencemen Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr have all signed long-term contracts.

With 11 free agents on the squad, general manager Darryl Sutter has some work ahead of him although reports surfaced earlier this month that the Flames signed centre Daymond Langkow to a four-year, no-trade contract extension worth $20 million US.

Other unrestricted free agents include veteran winger Owen Nolan, back-up netminder Curtis Joseph and flashy Finnish forward Kristian Huselius, who many speculate may have played his final game as a Flame on Tuesday night.

In the off-season last year, Mike Keenan signed a three-year contract to coach the Flames while Jim Playfair took a demotion from head coach to associate coach.

With the Flames down 4-2 in the second period of the deciding game against the Sharks, Keenan replaced Kiprusoff in the net with Joseph and was widely criticized for the move afterwards. He’ll likely have to face those same questions again today when meeting with the media, while Sutter will be asked whether the same coaching team will remain intact for next season.

So, while the Stanley Cup playoffs roll on, the Flames will head down to the ’Dome for one last time, pack up their belongings while meeting with team management and the media before heading their separate ways.

Needless to say, forward Alex Tanguay, who previously had considerable playoff success as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, would rather still be playing.

Alas, Flames fans will have to wait until next year to see if their beloved squad can make another run at the Cup.

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