With one of the craziest offseasons in NHL history fully underway and players switching teams left and right, it’s worth thinking about those players who stick around for the long haul with one franchise. In today’s cap world, it’s become less and less common for a player to play the majority of their career in one spot. The Flames know this all too well as they’ve only had two players in the history of their franchise play for them for their entire career.
Look no further than this most recent offseason to see how unlucky the Flames have been when it comes to players sticking in Calgary long-term. Both Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were once thought of as pillars to the Flames organization and locks to spend the majority of their career in town, yet both are now on new teams in their 20s. With that said the Flames have had quite a few players stick around and play for the team for the majority of their career. Let’s take a look at some notable players who stuck around in Calgary.
Jim Peplinski (1980–90, 1994–95)
711/711 GP in Calgary
In terms of players who have played at least 500 games in the NHL, Jim Peplinski is the only player in franchise history to spend his entire career with the Flames. Peplinski was drafted by the Atlanta Flames in the fourth round of the 1979 draft and made his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames in the 1980–81 season, their first in the city.
Peplinski was never the biggest star, but what stood out about his career was his durability and grit. Peplinski only missed 24 games across his entire NHL career. He played all 80 regular season games for the Flames in four different seasons during the 80s. He also registered at least 100 penalty minutes for nine straight seasons between 1980 and 1989.
Peplinski was co-captain of the Flames for six seasons between 1984–85 and 1988–89. Most importantly he helped the Flames win their first and still their only Stanley Cup in 1989 as co-captain. He would retire as the Flames all-time games played leader in 1989–90, before making a short six-game comeback in 1994–95.
All said, Peplinski logged 711 games, 424 points and 1467 penalty minutes with the Flames as well as 46 points in 99 playoff games. His 711 games are eighth all-time in franchise history, while his 99 playoff games are the most in franchise history.
Hakan Loob (1983–89)
450/450 GP in Calgary
The only other player in NHL history to spend their entire career in Calgary, Hakan Loob played just 450 games in the NHL but all 450 of them were as a Flame. Loob was drafted in the ninth round of the 1980 NHL draft by the Flames, and came over from Europe to make his NHL debut in the 1983–84 season.
Unlike Peplinski, Loob was a legitimate star in the NHL. He experienced great success in his short time in the NHL, finishing as a top-two scorer on the Flames in three of his six seasons in Calgary. The height of his career came during the 1987–88 season when he posted 106 points to lead the Flames in scoring. He also became the first Swedish born player to ever score 50 goals that year.
Like Peplinski, Loob was also a part of the 1989 Stanley Cup-winning team. That said he was a much larger part of the team’s success. That year Loob posted an impressive 85 points in 79 games during the regular season which was second on the team behind only Joe Mullen. In their playoff run he logged 17 points in 22 games. He also registered an assist on Lanny McDonald‘s iconic Stanley Cup goal in Game 6.
Unfortunately for the Flames—despite their best efforts and contract offers—Loob decided to return home to Sweden following the 1988–89 season at the peak of his career. Sound familiar? However with a key role in a Stanley Cup win, there were no hard feelings between Loob and the Flames when he decided to return home.
He ended his short six-year NHL career spending all six seasons in Calgary while posting 429 points in 450 games as well as 54 points in 73 playoff games. A short but prolific career.
Jarome Iginla (1995-2013)
1219/1554 GP in Calgary
The most obvious name on the list, Jarome Iginla is an icon in Calgary and their most famous player. He spent more time as a Flame than anyone else in history and dominated the NHL essentially every year while he was in Calgary. If you want to talk about loyalty, talk about Iginla.
Iginla wasn’t drafted by the Flames, but instead acquired before he had stepped foot on NHL ice for another franchise legend in Joe Nieuwendyk. Iginla made his regular season debut for the Flames in 1995–96, kicking off a 17-year career with the team in which he was the team’s captain for a franchise record nine seasons.
Iginla took a couple years to get his feet wet, but by his mid 20s he was by far the Flames’ best player. It stayed that way all the way into his 30s. Iginla is the only Flame to ever win the Art Ross and Rocket Richard, which makes his place in the franchise all the more untouchable. He also should’ve become the only Flame to ever win the Hart. Iginla accomplished everything he possibly could with the Flames except a Stanley Cup, which he came within one win of in 2004.
In a true testament to his loyalty to the franchise and the city, Iginla stuck around through thick and thin as the Flames failed to build a contender around him. He would only make the playoffs in five of his 16 seasons with the team.
No offence to the likes of Craig Conroy, Daymond Langkow and Olli Jokinen, but Iginla never played with a truly elite number one centre in Calgary across his 16 seasons with the team. Despite this, he still dominated the NHL every year and never complained.
Iginla was eventually dealt at the age of 35 to chase a Stanley Cup. He would play four more seasons in the NHL before retiring. He is now a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. All said, he finished his Flames career with 1219 games played, 525 goals and 1095 points. All three are Flames franchise records. The Flames will never see a player more loyal than Iginla.
Robyn Regehr (1999-2011)
826/1090 GP in Calgary
A true warrior known for his grit and physicality, Robyn Regehr was a staple on the Flames blueline for over a decade. Like Iginla, Regehr wasn’t originally drafted by the Flames but was acquired in a trade before playing a game in the NHL. He made his NHL debut in 1999–2000 with the Flames.
Regehr never earned many personal accolades throughout his career but was one of the core members of the Darryl Sutter Flames of the early 2000s. His physical play made him a fan favourite in Calgary throughout his tenure.
Regehr was as durable as they come, as he played at least 70 games in nine of his 10 seasons with the Flames after making the full-time jump to the NHL. He was a true workhorse, as he averaged over 21 minutes a game across his 11 seasons with the team. The height of his Flames career was of course the team’s 2003–04 Stanley Cup run in which he played all 26 games in the playoffs and averaged a ridiculous team-high 26:27 minutes of ice time.
Regehr would eventually be traded in the summer of 2011 after 12 years with the franchise. He would plays four more seasons in the NHL and retired in 2015. He finished his Flames career with 826 games played and 163 points. At the time he left as the Flames’ all-time leader in games played by a defenceman before Mark Giordano passed him in 2019.
Joel Otto (1984–95)
730/943 GP in Calgary
You’ll notice a trend on this list as every player was either a member of the team’s 1989 Stanley Cup winning team or the 2003-04 Stanley Cup final team. Joel Otto was of course a part of that 1989 team. Otto was never drafted but signed with the Flames in 1984 and made his NHL debut with the team in the 1984–85 season.
Like Peplinski, Otto was never a huge star but he was a key role player on the Flames as a physical force and two-way dynamo. He was also well known for his strong defensive play as he finished as a Selke finalist two times as a member of the Flames. He also served as an alternate captain for four seasons between 1991 and 1995.
Like others on this list, Otto reached his peak with the Flames in the 1988–89 season as he played a key role for the Stanley Cup-winning team. Otto would post 53 points and 213 penalty minutes in the regular season that year, adding 19 points in 22 games in the playoffs.
Otto left the team in free agency in 1995 despite his desire to stay as the Flames struggled with financial difficulties. He would play three more years in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers and retired in 1998.
Otto ended his Flames career with 730 games played, 428 points, and 1642 penalty minutes. He also logged 87 playoff games which ranks third in franchise history. Had the Flames not been in financial trouble in 1995 he most likely would’ve played his entire career with the team.
Miikka Kiprusoff (2003–13)
576/624 GP in Calgary
With Miikka Kiprusoff seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth after retiring in 2013, it’s easy to forget how much of an impact he made on the Flames franchise. He is still to this day the best goaltender in franchise history.
Like most names on this list, Kiprusoff was not drafted by the Flames. Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 1995, Kiprusoff would play just 49 games in the NHL before being traded to the Flames in 2003. He would immediately establish himself as the Flames’ starting goalie and would never look back.
Kiprusoff would finish top five in Vezina voting four times with the Flames, winning the trophy in 2005–06 to become the first and only Flames goaltender in franchise history to win the award.
Kiprusoff achieved a feat that will most likely never be done again in today’s NHL. He played at least 70 games in a season for the Flames seven straight times between 2005 and 2012. Unsurprisingly he owns the seven highest single season games played totals by a goaltender in franchise history.
Like Iginla and Regehr, he was a crucial part of the 2003–04 team that made the Stanley Cup Final. Kiprusoff’s 26 games played in the playoffs that year are the highest single-season total in franchise history. His 92.8 save percentage that year in the playoffs also ranks first in franchise history among goalies with at least 10 playoff games in a season.
Kiprusoff would retire as a member of the Flames in 2013. Overall he posted 576 games played with the team along with a .913 save percentage and 2.46 GAA. All three totals are tops in franchise history among goalies with at least 150 games played.
Mark Giordano (2005–21)
949/1024* GP in Calgary
The modern day Iginla if you will. If there is one player in Flames history who can hold a candle to Iginla’s loyalty, it’s Mark Giordano. The former Flames captain played a total of 16 years with the franchise after signing as a free agent in 2004.
Perhaps one of the most underrated players in the NHL throughout his time in Calgary, Giordano was a star for many years donning the flaming C. During his time in Calgary, he finished top 10 in Norris voting four times, including becoming just the second Flame in franchise history to win the award in 2019.
Simply put, Giordano was a core piece of the Flames blueline for over a decade. He averaged 23 minutes of ice time for the Flames for 10 straight seasons between 2010–11 and 2019–20. He averaged at least 20 minutes a game for 12 of his 15 seasons with the team. Giordano is also the second longest serving captain in franchise history behind only Iginla, as he wore a C for eight seasons. He was also an alternate captain for two seasons before being named captain.
The highlight of his time in Calgary is of course his 2018–19 Norris winning season, where he posted the highest single-season point total by a Flames defencemen in 24 years. As mentioned, he’s one of only two Flames defenders to win the Norris trophy.
Unfortunately due to the Seattle expansion draft the Flames had no choice but to leave Giordano unprotected or pay a premium to keep him around. Had there not been an expansion draft, Giordano almost certainly would’ve re-signed and ended his career as the longest serving Flame in history.
In the end, he was selected by Seattle and ended his Flames tenure after 16 years. He was later traded to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs where he recently signed a two-year contract to presumably close out his career.
All in all, Giordano finished his Flames career with 949 games played and 509 points. His 949 games with the franchise are second all-time behind only Iginla, and first among all Flames defencemen. He’s also top three all-time among Flames defencemen for assists and points.
Mikael Backlund (2008-Present)
826/826 GP in Calgary
The only current Flame on the list, Mikael Backlund is also one of the only Flames draft picks on the list. The 24th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Backlund worked his way up the organization to become one of the Flames’ most dependable and consistent core players throughout the last 10 plus years.
Backlund—like Giordano—has never received the praise he deserved across the league. A borderline elite two-way centre, Backlund has anchored the Flames second line and penalty kill for what seems like forever. He’s finished top 10 in Selke voting twice in his career.
A model of consistency, Backlund has played at least 76 games for the Flames in six of the last eight seasons (shortened seasons not included). As well, he’s played in all 82 games three times in his career. He’s been a staple in the team’s top-six for nearly a decade.
At 33 years old and with two years still remaining on his contract, there’s a solid chance he plays his entire career in Calgary if he isn’t traded. He’s currently logged 826 games and 436 points for the Flames, to go along with 22 points in 42 playoff games.
Backlund already sits third all time for games played with the franchise, sitting just 123 games behind Giordano for second. If he finishes his current contract in Calgary he’ll no doubt jump into second place.
Loyalty to Calgary
To be fair to the new Blue Jacket, an honourable mention is Gaudreau—as he is also an active player that fits the criteria. Having played eight full seasons with the Calgary Flames and being signed for seven with Columbus, he could very well end his career with the majority of his games played in Calgary.
However, he’ll be 35 years old when his current contract expires, which isn’t exactly a retirement age for forwards like Gaudreau. Should he extend his career for just two years, he’d disqualify himself from this list—which at this point in time would be considered likely.
Flames fans may feel spurned by the recent departures of Gaudreau and Tkachk who they once idolized, however they shouldn’t let that overshadow the fact that the team has had quite a few star players stick around for the bulk of their career in Calgary, as evidenced above.
With the news of Jonathan Huberdeau signing a max term eight-year extension in Calgary earlier this week, he’ll be a Flame for the next nine seasons—for those who don’t want to do the math, that’s until 2030–31. He’s the prime example that shows just because two players decided to leave, star talent will still want to stick around in Calgary not just in the past but also in the present.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire