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Calgary Flames

Flames Best #20 Of All Time: Gary Suter

Injuries held him out of two Cup Finals, but Suter will always be remembered as one of Calgary’s best defencemen.



Unfortunately for lots of Flames players who share the same number over the course of time, the players who played in the 80’s and early 90’s dwarf anyone who came later. That’s the case with the #20, as Gary Suter has and always will have a strangle hold on this digit.

Suter came to the Flames with a very solid hockey pedigree, as his brother played on Team USA’s Miracle On Ice team in 1980. Gary would have a very good stint at the University of Wisconsin and the Flames took notice, drafting the defenceman in the 9th round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, despite Suter having been completely passed over during the 1983 Draft. Boy, was everyone wrong about him.

Suter would hit the ice full time with the Flames in 1985-86 and make an immediate impact. He would play in 80 games, score 18 goals and dish out 50 assists, with 30 of those helpers coming on the PP. That season’s stats earned him the Calder Trophy that season as the NHL’s best rookie and a spot on the All Rookie Team. Not only were those accolades well deserved, Suter also stepped into the Flames lineup at the right time as Calgary went to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time, losing to the Montreal Canadiens. His post season was cut short before the Cup Finals however, as he hurt his knee and didn’t get a chance to play against Montreal. Up to that point he was playing particularly well, playing in 9 games and scoring two goals to go along with eight assists.

That injury would nag him through the 1986-87 season, hampering his numbers, but after that he took off. From 1987-93 Suter only had one season under 60 points and his 91 point effort in 1987-88 would be a career high as he reached the 70 assist mark in that season. Suter would go on to win a Stanley Cup in 1989 with the Flames, again not playing in the Finals. Suter suffered a broken jaw against Vancouver and had to watch the Flames win.

In his time with the Flames he would play in 617 games over the course of nine seasons, score 128 goals all while handing out 436 as a defenceman. He would make the All Star team four times in his career, all with the Flames and play in 49 post season games with Calgary, collecting 39 points.

Suter would leave Calgary (like a lot of the Cup winning talent did) in 1994, as he was part of a six player trade to Hartford, who flipped him to the Chicago Blackhawks in less than 24 hours. Suter would play eight more seasons between Chicago and San Jose, never accumulating the numbers or achieving the success he saw when with the Flames. Upon his retirement in 2002 he ranks 10th all time in Flames history in game played (617), 4th in assists (436), 5th in points (564), 9th in PIM (872) and 10th in PPG with 54.

Other Players Having Worn #20 In Flames History

Billy MacMillian (1973), Jean Lemieux (1974-76), Bryan Hextall (1974-75), Rich Lemieux (1976), Bob Murdoch (1979-82), Kari Elonranta (1983-85), Cory Stillman (1995), Dean Evanson (1996), Todd Hlushko (1997-98), Rene Corbet (1999-2000), Dallas Eakins (2001), Marty Murray (2001), Ron Sutter (2001), Jason Botterill (2002), Mathias Johansson (2003), Lynn Loyns (2004), Kristian Huselius (2006-08), Curtis Glencross (2009-15), Roman Horak (2014), Curtis Lazar (2017-19), Derek Forbert (2020)

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by Mark Parkinson