With the roster for the Calgary Flames pretty much set for opening night (with room for one or two more additions), there does not seem to be much more to do when it comes to offseason tasks for the Flames franchise. Finally, after a rollercoaster of an offseason, the team can take a breath and relax… right? Well, maybe not just yet as there is still one very important decision to be made.
Only seven of 32 NHL teams do not have a captain. The Flames are currently one of the seven. Ever since Mark Giordano was selected by the Seattle Kraken in 2021, the Flames have not had a captain on their roster. Instead, they have assigned three alternates to share the job. Last year, it seemed like many believed Matthew Tkachuk was the obvious choice for the next captain. However, well… we all know how that story ended.
With key players being replaced with some new incredibly talented additions, who should be the Flames next captain? We asked, you answered.
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Big name Flames to choose from
Every team that Darryl Sutter has coached has had a captain. At least that was the case until last year. From the names of Mikael Backlund, Jonathan Huberdeau, Chris Tanev, and even some others, it is very clear that the Flames are in no shortage of leaders in the locker room. However, if they are to name a captain, only one can be chosen.
Let’s take a look and see who our readers think should be the next captain of the Calgary Flames.
With 41% of the votes, Mikael Backlund is the favourite to rep the C. After all, it makes a lot of sense. Backlund is the longest-serving Flame on the roster, and he has been a key piece for this roster for quite some time. Backlund has also been an alternate captain since 2018.
If you are picking your captain based off who has shown the most long-term commitment to this franchise, Backlund is the easy choice. Backlund played his first game in a Flames jersey back in the 2008–09 season. 14 years later, Backlund is still a key member of this team.
Backlund has been through the team’s highest of peaks, and some of the lowest moments as well. I have no doubt in my mind that Backlund would make an amazing captain as it is clear that he is very well respected by not only his teammates but by the franchise as a whole. Why not give it to the Swedish King?
About 8% voted for Chris Tanev. Tanev is the textbook definition of putting your body on the line every night for the benefit of the team. Ever since leaving Vancouver, Tanev has arguably been the toughest Flame on the ice. On top of that, Tanev has been one of the best defensive defenceman in the league since joining Calgary.
Chris Tanev elevates his teammates play every single year. We saw it with Quinn Hughes in Vancouver, then with Noah Hanifin, and last season we saw it Oliver Kylington. The positive effect Tanev has on his teammates can not be debated. That is exactly what you want from a captain, someone who is able to bring out the best play out of their teammates. Can Tanev be that guy?
Now this would be a very interesting storyline. 18.6% voted for Jonathan Huberdeau to be the next captain. Although he has not played a game for the Flames yet, let’s explore this. First things first, Huberdeau just showed a massive commitment to the Flames by signing for eight years. By signing that contract, Huberdeau made it clear to the world that he saw Calgary as a winning franchise, and he also showed a commitment to not only the team, but the city. He did this during the same summer where two of the Flames’ biggest names at the time packed their bags and never looked back.
Huberdeau was also the Florida Panther’s alternate captain from 2018–22. He has leadership experience and I would not be surprised to see the team name him as captain. Especially after he just signed the richest deal in Flames franchise history.
Three alternates again
Surprisingly, this option was the second most popular choice. Although naming a captain would be ideal, being captainless definitely didn’t stop the Flames from finishing at the top of the Pacific Division. If the team found success last year, who says they can’t do that and more next year?
After going one season without a captain last year, it would be no surprise to see them do it again this year. It makes sense especially after two members of their leadership team—Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan—departed. The Flames might not want to rush naming a captain next season and first get a feel on how the team performs and what their chemistry is like.
Who steps up on the ice, who pushes the team to be their best? With new faces and a shared desire to win, showing a little bit of patience and waiting for the right guy to take the reins can pay off.
Calgary’s next captain will define the franchise
It is easy to look at the names listed and be happy with the possibility of all of them being named captains. There is plenty of leadership in the Flame’s dressing room, and whether they decide to name a captain, or lead by committee like last year, the team is sure to be a contender for the Stanley Cup. Though there are plenty of options, I believe it is a very safe bet that a captain will be named.
The Flames are ushering in a new era, and committing to the new direction starts with having a captain. Calgary’s going to look completely different when they hit the ice come October (or even September). Committing to a naming a captain sets the tone for the whole season and years beyond.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire
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