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Flames Best #19 Of All Time: Tim Hunter

There’s no more iconic face in Flames history than Tim Hunter. Though there’s another on his way.



Out of all the numbers we’ve gone over so far, #19 was by far the hardest choice. It came down to Tim Hunter versus Matthew Tkachuk, not an easy matchup. Both players have their merits and it wasn’t easy selecting Tim Hunter over Tkachuk. Chucky has better point numbers in less than a third of the games that Hunter played, but Tim Hunter was such a HUGE part of those dominant Flames teams of the 80’s and he, like Tkachuk meant a ton to the group that he skated with. I think Tkachuk will absolutely end up being the greatest #19 in Flames history someday, but right now Tim Hunter holds that mantle and there’s no way Tkachuk wants that fight.

Hunter was drafted by the Atlanta Flames at the 1979 NHL Entry Draft in the third round with the 54th overall pick. He would make his NHL debut after the Flames left Atlanta and moved to Calgary by playing in a mere two games during the 1981-82 season. His first long term taste of the NHL would come two years later, during the 1983-84 season where he would play in 43 games and spend 130 minutes in the penalty box, something the 6’2, 202 lb forward would become known for.

Hunter played 545 games over 11 seasons for the Flames and was one of toughest guys on the ice. And that’s saying a lot because those Flames teams were TOUGH. During his time with the Flames, Hunter would accumulate 2,405 PIM, by FAR the franchise record with Calgary and he would finish his career 8th all time in NHL history with 3,146 PIM. And you can probably guess what put him there the most…..fighting. Over his career he would drop the gloves 186 times, but a ridiculous 151 of those would come over his 11 years with the Flames. He would lead the Flames in PIM in 1988-89 with a team record 375 minutes in the box and lead the entire league in 1986-87 & 1988-89. Just to add more fuel to the fire, he also led the league in 1983 for most penalty minutes in the playoffs with 71.

Even though he was the muscle and enforcer for the Flames, he was respected as a player and person. Hunter was the Flames Captain in 1989 along with Lanny McDonald and Jim Peplinski. And speaking of Peplinski and Hunter, both were scratches for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Montreal and were replaced by none other than Lanny McDonald who had been a healthy scratch for games 3, 4 & 5 of that series. Selflessness was a big character trait of not only that Flames team, but of Hunter himself. He would be large part of the Flames playoff success that season, playing in 19 games, cutting down on his PIM and hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first and only time in his career.

Hunter’s best season overall numbers wise would come during the 1984-85 season where he would play in 70 games and total up 22 points, with his 11 goals being a career high. In his 11 seasons with the Flames Hunter would score 49 times and hand out 59 helpers, not bad for a guy known for handing out beatings. He would leave the Flames after the 1992 season and play five more seasons with stops in Quebec and Vancouver before playing his last NHL campaign in 1996-97 with the San Jose Sharks.

After hanging up his skates, like most NHL players, Tim Hunter couldn’t stay away from the rink. He has twice been an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals and held the same position with the San Jose Sharks. In 2014 he was named head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, a position he held until 2020.

Other Players Having Worn #19 In Flames History

Morris Stefaniw (1973), Arnie Brown (1973-74), Ed Kea (1974-79), Paul Henderson (1980), Bobby Gould (1981-82), Bruce Eakin (1982), Carl Mokosak (1982), Todd Harkins (1982), Vesa Viiakoski (1994-96), David Haas (1994), Chris O’Sullivan (1997-99), Oleg Saprykin (2000-04), Chuck Kobasew (2006-07), Wayne Primeau (2007-09), Jamal Mayers (2010), Fredrik Modin (2011), Blair Jones (2012-14), David Jones (2015-16), Matthew Tkachuk (2016-20)

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by Mark Parkinson