Picking the Calgary Flames' all-time 40th anniversary team

Sep 17 2019, 10:24 am

No matter what record the Calgary Flames post in the 2019-20 season, it will be a historic one for the franchise.

The Flames are marking 40 years since the club packed up from Atlanta and moved north of the border for the 1980-81 campaign.

Hundreds of players have worn the flaming ‘C’ over their careers, including a handful who have been immortalized as sports legends in Calgary.

With that in mind, presented here are our picks for the greatest 20-man roster in Calgary Flames franchise history spanning the early days of the team to the stars of today.

This all-Flames roster will be limited to production while in Calgary, so while a players like Brett Hull and Martin St. Louis turned in Hockey Hall of Fame careers, they will be evaluated on only their time with the Flames.

Player positioning will be prioritized, so you won’t be seeing 10 centres making the cut.

And while playing stats will be the primary focus for the list, other aspects including hardware and lasting legacy in Calgary are part of the criteria.

Honourable mentions will be listed in each category for those who did not quite crack the roster of 12 forwards, six defencemen, and two goaltenders.

Forwards

LW C RW
Roberts Nieuwendyk Iginla
Gaudreau Nilsson Fleury
Peplinski Otto McDonald
Tanguay Monahan Loob

Off the bat, the (self-imposed) positional limits left a number of great Flames off the all-time roster like Craig Conroy and Doug Gilmour at centre and a weaker left side.

Calgary’s top line contains three no-doubters with Jarome Iginla leading most franchise goal and point producing totals, while Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk both sit inside the Flames’ top-six all-time scorers.

Johnny Gaudreau’s short, but already productive career makes him a slam-dunk second line winger alongside another diminutive scorer in Theo Fleury and one of the most underrated Flames of all-time in Kent Nilsson and his 469 career points in Calgary.

The trio of Joel Otto, Jim Peplinski, and Lanny McDonald all formed part of Calgary’s leadership core in their 1989 Stanley Cup championship season, while all sitting 10th, 11th, and 12th in franchise scoring, respectively.

For fourth line centre we went with Sean Monahan over fan-favourites Conroy and Gilmour due to Monahan already outscoring the pair through six seasons and his potential to move up the Flames all-time scoring list.

He’s joined by Hakan Loob, sixth in all-time Flames scoring, on the right wing ahead of Joe Mullen and Alex Tanguay closing out the left wing with his 284 points in a Flames sweater.

Honourable mentions:

RW Joe Mullen (388 points), C Robert Reichel (354 points), C Craig Conroy (308 points), C Doug Gilmour (295 points), RW Sergei Makarov (292 points)

Defencemen

LD RD
Giordano MacInnis
Suter Reinhart
Regehr Brodie

The only two Norris Trophy winners to ever suit up for Calgary (MacInnis won his lone Norris Trophy in St. Louis), Mark Giordano and Al MacInnis are without a doubt the two best rearguards in Flames history.

MacInnis’ 822 points are third-most of any Flames player in franchise history, while Giordano has played in more games than any Calgary defender and is coming off the best season of his career with 74 points.

Stanley Cup champion Gary Suter still ranks as the second-highest scoring blueliner in Calgary’s 40-year history with 564 points and slots in on the team’s second pairing alongside Paul Reinhart, who dominated in the 1980s with almost 400 points before a back injury forced his retirement at age 29.

Third-pairing roles meanwhile belong to 11-year mainstay Robyn Regehr and current Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie, who has played the best hockey of his career on the right side en-route to 247 career points.

Honourable mentions:

D Jamie Macoun (246 points), D Phil Housley (238 points), D Dion Phaneuf (228 points), D Derek Morris (163 points)

Goaltenders

Starter Kiprusoff
Backup Vernon

The gap between Calgary’s best two goaltenders and the rest of the field resembles the size of the Grand Canyon.

Miikka Kiprusoff and Mike Vernon stand alone representing Calgary’s two most memorable periods in team history, the 1989 Stanley Cup championship and the 2004 Stanley Cup finals appearance.

While Vernon boasts the hardware, we’ll go with ‘Kipper’ as the Flames starting goaltender mostly due to his career .913 save percentage and 41 shutouts.

Honourable mentions:

G Rejean Lemelin (136 wins), G Trevor Kidd (72 wins), G Roman Turek (63 wins)