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Calgary Flames

Flames Will Have A Captain — Who Will It Be?



For two seasons, the Calgary Flames captaincy has remained vacant.

The letter has been worn by just two players since Craig Conroy — now the Flames general manager — displayed it during the 2002-03 NHL season.

Conroy voluntarily handed it to Jarome Iginla the following year, and when the Hockey Hall of Fame power forward left after nine years with the ‘C’, defenceman Mark Giordano inherited it for the next eight until he was scooped up by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft before the 2021-22 campaign.

Recently terminated head coach Darryl Sutter said his team didn’t need one, and the lack of committed term on some players’ contracts factored in heavily to that absence of a singular representative of leadership.

Matthew Tkachuk forced his way out a year early, and other obvious candidates Mikael Backlund, Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm are all heading into the last year of their deals.

MacKenzie Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau are both inked for the next eight years. Nazem Kadri for another half dozen. But all three of them just finished their first season with the Calgary Flames.

Even Rasmus Andersson’s six-year deal is half over.

So whichever coach Conroy and his management team selects is going to have to make a tough decision in the fall.

“Absolutely, we’re going to have a captain,” Conroy said on Sportsnet 960 last week. “I’ve played in two Canadian markets myself. You have to have a captain; I’ve always believed it. I struggled with (not having one) each year, but that’s obviously a decision that was above me.

“Now when we’re doing the coaching interviews, we’re going to have a captain.”

Presumably, the new coach will take some time over the summer and through training camp to get to know the players and see how some of the contracts play out. Here is a look at the top candidates.

Mikael Backlund

Fan favourite. Probably the locker-room choice, too. The only wrinkle here is Backlund’s contract status. He can become an unrestricted free agent next summer and has said publicly he wants a shot at a Stanley Cup. He’d like it to be in Calgary, but is he sure it’s possible? Don’t be surprised if the captaincy is dangled by Conroy in contract negotiations. If he inks an extension, he’s the heavy favourite to land the ‘C’.

Jonathan Huberdeau

The franchise invested in the talented left-winger with the richest contract in Flames history, then doubled down by ditching head coach Darryl Sutter after a number of players expressed a desire to be traded if the organization kept the crusty coach around. Conroy wants to see Huberdeau get his swagger back this season and giving him the ultimate leadership role might help with confidence. The biggest question mark here is how engrained in the fabric of the team is he after one tough season?

Rasmus Andersson

Andersson is not-so-quietly one of the most important pieces in the locker-room, and he took another step forward with his leadership and accountability last season. He faced the media frequently and offered honest answers every time, which can be one of the toughest parts of becoming a captain in a Canadian market. The maturity he’s shown as a player and person would make him a great representative and there’s no doubt he’d have the support of his peers.

Tyler Toffoli

Same contract status as Backlund, but Toffoli had a career year last season and then captained Team Canada to world championship gold, too. He may not have been on the list a year ago but the veteran seems to have what it takes to lead a group even though he’s not known as an overly vocal teammate. He’s probably a longshot for Calgary Flames captain even if he re-signs — but he’s on the radar now.

MacKenzie Weegar

Another extremely likable player and person, Weegar hit the international stage in a big way at the world championships, pacing Team Canada to a gold medal. The blueliner was the country’s leading scorer and was named top defenceman at the tournament. Weegar started to get comfortable in Calgary midway through his debut Flames season and could be integrated more into all areas of the game under a new coach, too. Might he be in line for a letter?


  • Elias Lindholm — A long-term extension would make him a contender, but does he want to stay? Can the Calgary Flames fit a new contract under the cap?
  • Chris Tanev — As big an on-ice, by-example leader as there is. But with injuries piling up and a UFA status quickly approaching, his time may have passed.
  • Nazem Kadri — If anyone’s reputation took a big hit from this disastrous season, it’s Kadri’s. His motor seemed to sputter down the stretch. Did he get tired or quit?

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