Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
The Flames came to the city of Calgary in 1980. Originally the Atlanta Flames, they were a part of the National Hockey League’s 1972 expansion. The moniker “Flames” along with the fiery “A” logo represented the burning of the city of Atlanta during the American Civil War.
The Calgary Flames competed in the finals for the Stanley Cup three times: 1986, 1989 and 2004. They defeated the Montreal Canadiens in 1989 to win their one and only championship title.
Notable players to star for the team include: Tom Lysiak, Kent Nilsson, Guy Chouinard, Lanny McDonald, Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Suter, Doug Gilmour, Joe Mullen, Theoren Fleury, Gary Roberts, Phil Housley, Jarome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf, and goaltenders Dan Bouchard, Mike Vernon and Miikka Kiprusoff.
The team has retired the jersey numbers of former Flames players Lanny McDonald (number 9) and Mike Vernon (number 30).
Notable trophies won by Flames players include: Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring – Jarome Iginla 2001-02; Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie – Gary Suter 1985-86, Joe Nieuwendyk 1987-88 and Sergei Makarov 1989-90; Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs – Al MacInnis 1988-89; Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer – Jarome Iginla 2001-02 and 2003-04; and the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender – Miikka Kiprusoff 2005-06.
The franchise has had some big names behind the bench as coach, such as Hockey Hall of Famers Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and “Badger” Bob Johnson, as well as Al MacNeil.
Regarded as one of the most lop-sided trades ever to take place in the NHL happened when future superstar Brett Hull was sent to the St. Louis Blues along with Steve Bozek for Rob Ramage and Rick Wamsley. Ramage was a solid defenseman and Wamsley a decent goalie, but the loss of Hull remains a huge black spot in the team’s history.
After Russian forward Sergei Makarov was awarded the Calder Trophy in 1989 the league changed the qualifications for this award. It was in this year the then Soviet Union allowed players to play in the NHL and with Makarov garnishing the Calder, the league made it so that only players under the age of 26 were eligible to win the trophy. This is often referred to as the Makarov Rule.
The Calgary Flames built the team into a very respectable franchise that remains a constant contender for the NHL championship. With young stars and great veterans the future looks to burn bright.