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Ruzicka Suggests Flames Captaincy a Factor in Tkachuk Departure

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Did Matthew Tkachuk’s decision not to sign a long-term deal with the Calgary Flames come down to the captaincy?

One former teammate suggested that may be the case.

Adam Ruzicka, the only remaining unsigned Calgary Flames RFA, made an appearance on the Boris Valabik and Marian Gaborik podcast last week. They talked about all kinds of things. Sex or no sex before games. The abundance of crime and lack of restaurants in Stockton, California. The challenges about playing for Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter.

Oh, and the fact that Tkachuk “insisted on (the) captaincy.” Which Ruzicka thinks may have played a role in his departure.

The interview was in Slovak, so the paraphrasing comes via a loose transcript. It was provided by a member of the popular Flames fan forum Calgary Puck who resides in the Czech Republic.

It’s fair to say context could be lost in translation, but Tkachuk had worn a letter in Calgary for years and seemed as if he was preparing for an upgrade last season. He took a step forward in maturity under Sutter’s first full season as head coach. Tkachuk was a frequent member of the media podium and didn’t get pissy when faced with the more irritating questions. Even after the hard losses.

His brother Brady Tkachuk was given a new long-term contract and then the captaincy for the Ottawa Senators last season. It made for some fun moments in their games against each other, with some ribbing at centre ice.

It’s entirely possible the fact the same wasn’t promised to him factored into his choice to avoid extending with the Flames this summer. Instead, he offered a list of teams he would agree to sign with to facilitate an NHL trade.

In the end, I doubt it was any more than one more bullet point on his list of pros and cons.

The Florida Panthers have their captain, Sasha Barkov, locked in for nearly as long as Tkachuk’s eight-year deal. If that was something he was desperate for, he’d have been more likely to inherit it by signing here in Calgary.

After losing longtime captain Mark Giordano in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, the Calgary Flames went without one last year.

There seems to be little interest in naming a new captain unless it’s someone who plans to be around for a while. In a recent radio interview, Sutter suggested he hasn’t changed his approach this summer.

“I don’t think my mind has changed,” Sutter said in an interview with Sportsnet 960’s Eric Francis.

“It probably goes back to last year. Anybody that was a consideration for it, they were the up and comers. But they were also guys that weren’t under contract. So really, it would make not much sense to be naming captains if they’re only going to be here for a year or two.

“I think it’s still a growth part of this team,” Sutter added, suggesting he hasn’t thought much about the vacancy. “I think I learned a lot about the players last year and we’ll just go from there.”

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