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Wakeup Call — Flames Franchise Empowering Players This Summer



Calgary Flames

The call came in late. But when Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving rings you up, you answer.

So, goaltender Jakob Markstrom picked up the phone. Instantly, he became one of the first to know Jonathan Huberdeau was set to be member of the Calgary Flames.

“Tre called me in the middle of the night Swedish time and obviously with (Matthew) Tkachuk (not wanting) to stay, things needed to happen very quick,” Markstrom told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman during the NHL’s European press tour.

Markstrom and Huberdeau were both rookies with the Florida Panthers in 2012-13, so Treliving was looking for a little intel.

“I’m not sure what kind of an impact I had on (the trade),” Markstrom said. “He called and asked what kind of a person Johnny Huberdeau is. I just said great guy and he’d be a great addition for our team.

“A few hours later it was announced.”

Maybe more significant than the impact Markstrom might have had on the deal is the culture of communication, trust and empowerment the Calgary Flames have been creating.

The GM involving players in the process for important decisions. Or flying to Montreal for a quick dinner with Huberdeau to get to know him and make him feel appreciated. The majority owner, Murray Edwards, hopping on calls with Nazem Kadri. Kadri echoed earlier statements from Huberdeau that the Flames franchise’s desire to win and ability to make the player feel like an important part of that was what won them over in signing long-term.

Head coach Darryl Sutter is working on the farm this summer. But he has been an key part of each recruitment, spending time on calls with Kadri to talk about expectations, among other things.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for a coach like that. I’m his type of player, also, which is nice,” Kadri said after signing. “We’ve both had that championship experience and can reminisce and share our moments together.

“At the end of the day I’m going there all business. I want to win.”

With a roster that is arguably stronger than it was last season, the Calgary Flames seem poised to do more of that. At least come playoff time.

Ensuring the players all feel like important pieces of that common goal is critical to the sort of chemistry needed to make a deep run in for the Stanley Cup.

It’s clear the franchise has that covered so far this summer.

Even if it means calling Sweden in the middle of the night.

“That was obviously exciting for me to hear from Tre. It’s nice to see the management calling the players. Asking about players to see if they’re good guys or bad guys and how they fit into different scenarios and fit in the team,” Markstrom told Sportsnet.

“The phone just kept going off,” he added, sharing that he was at Washington Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom’s wedding earlier.

“With the wedding there, I was up a little bit later than I usually am, so I wasn’t in a deep sleep.”

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