Not blind in the slightest, Bob Hartley can see the perfect storm of rumours and speculation blowing in and threatening to engulf his Calgary Flames.

The drama surrounding the Western Conference basement-dwellers is befitting of an afternoon soap opera with the Detroit Red Wings rolling into town for a date tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Is Miikka Kiprusoff indeed steamed over his surprise benching Monday night in Los Angeles? Will Jarome Iginla waive his no-movement clause and bid farewell after 18 years as a Flame?

What lies ahead for Jay Bouwmeester? Michael Cammalleri? Cory Sarich? Anton Babchuk?

Rest assured, the outside noise will prove deafening over the next 22 days leading up to the April 3 NHL trade deadline.

“Again, that’s part of our job,” Hartley was saying after the Flames fell 3-1 to the LA Kings Monday night to mark the end of a dreadful California road trip. “Trades, firing, fans happy, fans frustrated — we’re in the sports business.

“We’re in the entertainment business. That’s the job that we chose.”

At the midway point of the season, the Flames have the dubious distinction as the oldest team in the league. For the third straight year, they have 22 points after 24 games.

In other words the trajectory of this group is hardly headed in an upward direction.

“I don’t see any distraction,” Hartley stated firmly. “There’s going to be lots of stuff being said.

“If you want to focus on those things, it’s not going to help our hockey club, that’s for sure.”