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Numbers Game: Huberdeau Won’t Ask Veteran for No. 11

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Calgary Flames Mikael Backlund

Perhaps Calgary Flames veteran Mikael Backlund would negotiate for his number.

As long as newcomer Jonathan Huberdeau agrees to a long-term extension to stick around?

Backlund is the longest-serving active member of the Calgary Flames. With 11 NHL seasons in the Flaming C, the 33-year-old centre has watched every iteration of this team’s roster since he was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NHL Draft.

Which is why Huberdeau – one of the newest Flames after headlining the Matthew Tkachuk trade — doesn’t sound like he’s about to ask for No. 11.

“Backlund is a veteran and he deserves to keep his number,” Huberdeau said when asked during his introductory Zoom on Monday.

“I’ll change my number. I’ve been thinking about it a little bit but I haven’t made a decision yet.”

Huberdeau wore the double-ones with the Florida Panthers for 10 seasons. The 29-year-old holds the Panthers’ franchise record in games played (671), assists (415) and points. (613).

A quick search shows No. 10 as something he wore once at an international tournament. He mentioned it Tuesday on Calgary radio as a finalist along with 91. But there are other options.

Johnny Gaudreau’s No. 13 is vacant after the former top-line left-winger left for the greener pastures of Ohio. He dumped the Calgary Flames in free agency and signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But that might be a comparison Huberdeau wants to avoid.

The No. 14 is unofficially off limits as the digits worn by Flames legend Theo Fleury.

The obvious choice here outside the two he’s debating might be wearing his birth year — 93.

It might be fitting since former Panthers teammate Sam Bennett wore that on his back during his time with the Calgary Flames before Huberdeau helped jumpstart Bennett’s career in South Florida.

Whatever the decision is, expect it relatively soon.

The Calgary Flames have Huberdeau jerseys to sell.

“The team kind of asked me what I was going to wear,” Huberdeau said. “We’ll see in the next couple of days. I’ve got to talk to the family.

“I want to get a good number. I’ve always worn No. 11 so it’s going to be a tough change.”

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