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Flames Best #27 Of All Time: Eric Vail

Vail set Flames franchise records after only being with them for four seasons.



Once again we’re jumping into the time machine to back to the prehistoric roots of the Flames and look at the first player to ever wear #27, who turned out to be the best #27 in Flames history and that player is named Eric Vail.

Eric Vail was a member of the Atlanta and Calgary Flames from 1973 to 1982 and was a points producing machine during his tenure in the league. For seven consecutive seasons Vail never had a point total under 45 with his best point year coming in 1978-79 where he scored 35 goals and had 48 assists.

Vail would break into the NHL with Atlanta after being a second round pick in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft. As a rookie in 1974-75 he would play in 72 games that season and his 60 points would lead all rookie scorers and he would take home the coveted Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie.

What the Flames had going at the time was pretty remarkable. Vail would become the Flames all time leading scorer in 1979-80, taking that honor from Tom Lysiak, who debuted in the NHL one season prior to Vail’s arrival. From his rookie season on, Eric Vail would never be below the top five in scoring on the Flames, with his final season (1981-82) being the exception where only played in six games before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings because he and the Flames coaching staff couldn’t get along. Which is a shame because in the Flames first season in Calgary after leaving Atlanta, Vail had a monster 64 point season in only 64 games.

Vail was another one of those early Flames players who saw the playoffs a lot, but not for very long. Atlanta and Calgary made the post season for seven seasons while Eric Vail was with the franchise, but he only played in 20 games and had 11 points. That’s just not enough for a player of his caliber.

Vail would spend one season in Detroit before being sent to the AHL to finish out his hockey career with the Adirondack Red Wings for a season and a half.

Vail would play in one ASG during his career, the 1977 game where he would score the opening goal for the Capmbell Conference in a 4-3 loss to the Wales Conference team.

When his career would be over, Vail would play in 539 games between Atlanta and Calgary, score 206 goals and collect 246 assists. He’s currently 8th on the Flames all time in goals scored, 10th in points, 6th in even strength goals (150), tied for 10th in PPG (54) and tied for 6th in GWG with 29.

Other Players Having Worn #27 With The Flames

Eddy Beers (1982-86), Gord Hampson (1983), Dale DeGray (1986), John Tonelli (1986-88), Brian MacLellan (1989-91), Tomas Forslund (1992-93), Ted Drury (1994), Scott Morrow (1995), Todd Simpson (1996-99), Marc Savard (2000-03), Craig Berube (2003), Steve Reinprecht (2004-06), Mike Leclerc (2006), Andre Roy (2009), Steve Staios (2010-11), Derek Smith (2012-14), Sven Baertschi (2015), Dougie Hamilton (2016-18), Austin Czarnik (2019-20)

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by Mark Parkinson