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Cat's shown the door!

By GEORGE JOHNSON -- Calgary Sun

  No one's ever accused him of being at a loss for words.
Yet the only sound heard yesterday from Rick Tabaracci, in the wake of his nomadic career being rerouted in yet another direction, was the answering machine message at his home: "You have reached ... Please leave a name and number and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.''
No name nor number had to be left, however. No return call was necessary. The message had been made all-too-clear:
Pack.
That Brian Sutter brand, the one used to identify his stock out on the Ponderosa at Sylvan Lake, is being burned into another bunch of droopy-eyed cattle.
Ever-so-quickly, this is becoming Sutter's team, for better or worse; the objects of his disgust and derision one-by-one cut loose and scattered to the winds.
German Titov? Ta-ta.
Dwayne Roloson? See ya.
Aaron Gavey? Son, the eyes of Texas are upon you.
And now Tabaracci, another of those found wanting, has been punted by the Flames to Washington -- who had traded him to Calgary in 1995 -- in exchange for an undisclosed draft pick and the inevitable future considerations.
In his second turn here, with nemesis Trevor Kidd dispatched to Carolina, Tabaracci figured he'd cemented the No. 1 spot in goal. Life was good. Business was good. He signed a new, lucrative contract. People naturally assumed Tabaracci's feistiness would appeal to the incoming cut-the-bull, in-your-face style of Sutter. Seamless fit, right?
Well, the season ended in a shroud of disappointment, second-guessing and acrimony, and a 13-22-6 record for Tabaracci.
So when the Flames dealt the out-of-favor Titov to Pittsburgh for Ken Wregget earlier this off-season, Tabaracci effectively became a spare part, an extremely expensive one slated to pull in $1.2 million US.
"We have Wregget as a number one and the plan is to let (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere and (Tyler) Moss fight for the backup job,'' said GM Al Coates of the plan for September.
Tabaracci was likely prepared for yesterday's move. But in Washington, he's apt to sprout branches and buds being rooted to the pine watching Olaf Kolzig.
The Caps were in search of a won't-rock-the-boat caddy to Ollie the Goalie. Their general manager, George McPhee, had instigated talks with unrestricted free-agent Arturs Irbe, but they stalled.
So he settled for Tabaracci.
"Rick is a quality goalie who will provide depth and help create a strong tandem with Olie," said McPhee. "He is a former Capital who was excellent in the community so we expect an easy transition to Washington."
Sutter might debate that. The goaltending here consistently fell far short of acceptable in his eyes. When either Tabaracci or Roloson played well, the coach's retort was invariably "well, that's their job!'' and if they faltered, which did happen far too often, the blame was laid directly at the edge of their crease.
"(Tabaracci) really liked it here, so I don't know whether he's happy to go or not,'' said Coates. "All I know is that my job is to put a team on the ice to win games.''
Tabaracci (and Roloson) didn't do enough of that last season for Sutter's liking.
"One of the easy things,'' he said earlier, at the height of the furor, "is to point at the goalies.''
And then point at the door.

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