It’s rare that a player only wears a number for one season and comes out on top as the best player to wear said number. Well, that’s the exact case with the #49 and the Calgary Flames. Matthew Lombardi played the 2003-04 season with the #49 on his back and that one single year was better than anyone else to wear the specific number in Flames history.
Lombardi was originally drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 7th round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, but the Montreal native never signed with Edmonton. Calgary would then draft him in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft as a re-entry with the 90th overall pick (3rd Round). He would spend the entire 2002-03 season with the St. John Flames before getting his chance to shine with the Flames in 2003-04.
Lombardi was lucky enough to break in with Calgary the year that they were making a run to the Stanley Cup Finals. In the 2003-04 season Lombardi would play in 79 games as a rookie, scoring 16 goals and handing out 13 assists. Despite it being his first NHL campaign, his 29 points were good for 7th overall on the Flames and it looked like he would be a key player as the Flames headed into the playoffs. He would also finish 12th overall in the Calder Memorial Trophy voting for his solid rookie year.
Like all things that seem a sure lock, Lombardi’s post season went down the drain after a promising start. After playing in 13 games and collecting six points, Lombardi would be injured by Derian Hatcher during the Flames series with the Red Wings and miss the rest of the post season.
Following the 2003-04 season, Matthew Lombardi would switch from #49 to #18, thus ending the most successful run of any Flames player wearing that number in franchise history. While wearing #18, Lombardi would play three more successful seasons with the Flames before finishing his NHL career with Phoenix, Nashville, Toronto and Anaheim.
Other Players Having Worn #49 In Flames History
Richie Regehr (2006-07), Hunter Shinkaruk (2016-17)
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by Mark Parkinson