Calgary Flames

Crowdsourcing the favourite to be the next Calgary Flames captain

Earlier this offseason after Nazem Kadri signed with the Calgary Flames, The Win Column released a pairwise wiki survey to gauge who Flames fans think should be named the next captain. The great thing about the survey and its format is that it enables more than just a captain to be determined.

Players are ranked and compared against one another randomly, and the results show not just the winner, but where everyone stacks up against one another. For the purposes of assigning a captain, this also shows who fans think are best suited for the shared duties of alternate captains too.

Flames captain survey breakdown

The way the survey works is that every player is given a score of 50 to start, representing that they have a 50% chance of being selected out of two random options. However, as time goes on and more selections are made, a player’s score can trend towards either 100 or 0, depending if they’re picked often or rarely selected, respectively.

The higher the score is, the more likely they would be selected, or “win” against a randomly selected option in the pool of choices.

There were 22 different players listed as possible choices for captain. Of course, there are players who have virtually zero chance of being named captain, but when they are compared against another player with no chance, it’s neat to compare where they stack up among their own tier.

The favourite for Flames captain

After over 16,800 votes, the survey results are in. As of September 8, 2022, the player that fans most want to see be named captain of the Calgary Flames is no other than Mikael Backlund.

In a very close battle for the captaincy, Backlunk eked out Elias Lindholm—the former earning a score of 89 to the latter’s 88. That’s about as close of a toss-up as you could get. This suggests most fans would be happy to see either of these players named captain, and the other should definitely be an alternate.

Alternate captains for Calgary

In addition to Backlund and Lindholm, only two other players earned scores of at least 80. This creates a perceived leadership core that consists of Chris Tanev reprising his role as an alternate, and newcomer Jonathan Huberdeau also earning the A on his jersey.

Tanev ended up with a score of 83, while Huberdeau earned a flat 80. Tanev’s leadership qualities have been on full display ever since he’s joined the Flames, and last season was Tanev’s masterclass of showing up to work and getting the job done.

Huberdeau comes from being an alternate captain in Florida for the past four seasons, mainly alongside captain Aleksander Barkov and alternate captain Aaron Ekblad. Between those for seasons, Patric Hornqvist, Vincent Trocheck, and Keith Yandle also shared alternate captain duties with Huberdeau.

Chances are, one of the four Flames out of Backlund, Lindholm, Tanev, and Hubedeau will be named captain—if the Flames elect to do so in 2022–23.

Leaders in the room

Outside of the aforementioned four, the Flames have no shortage of leadership, independent of a letter patch on a jersey. There’s a group of players who have had fans piping for their captaincy or at least an alternate designation lately, and it’s reflected in the next tier of players.

Alternative choices for other alternates

Among forwards, there’s Blake Coleman, Andrew Mangiapane, Milan Lucic, and Nazem Kadri. They scored 69, 67, 64, and 64, respectively.

Coleman has championship pedigree and his tenacity on the ice is something that’s consistent every game. Coming in as a bigger free agent last offseason, he showed commitment to the team by signing a long-term deal and made it blatantly obvious he joined with intentions of competing for the Cup. Simply put, Coleman has bought into the system, and that goes a long way.

Mangiapane’s motor makes him one of the league’s most underrated diminutive forwards. While he’s gained more attention after his 2021–22 campaign, he’s got more in him and his on-ice play serves as a great example of, well, leading by example.

Then there’s Lucic, who has been a fan-favourite for as long as he’s been around, and he’s a well-liked player through and through. He also served as an alternate captain on the Edmonton Oilers from 2016–17 until 2018–19.

Newly-signed Kadri has a similar story in terms of becoming a Flame to Coleman. Fresh off a Stanley Cup win, Kadri’s hungry for more and he opted to sign with the Flames in pursuit of another championship. He did this much later in the offseason with Calgary looking mightily different than they did at the end of the season. It’s a similar buy-in attitude that the team and fans will appreciate.

Then there’s also defencemen Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin. They round out the players with scores over 60, with Andersson clocking it at 63 while Hanifin just made the cut at exactly 60.

Long shots as leaders

Everyone else received a score of 55 of lower (both Tyler Toffoli and MacKenzie Weegar got this score), which is virtually a coin toss in terms of how the survey scores each player. In fact, they were the two remaining players with scores above 50. All others were under 50, meaning they’d all likely be compared to someone better served to be captain.

Be sure to check out the full results of the poll.

Turning a new leaf in Calgary

The Flames were forced to make drastic changes to their roster this offseason, and they more than delivered on that, as they come into the 2022–23 season still looking like Cup contenders. They now have big stars under contract for years to come, the group is more mature now than before, and surely, they’re going to compete.

Only time will tell how well this team performs, but on paper they look like they can be a real threat. Having defined leadership and an advocate for the players in the form of a captain can prove quite beneficial for this group of players. We’ll soon see if this is indeed on the Flames’ to-do list or not, but at the end of the day, they’re a team that has a plethora of players with leadership qualities, and that’s a recipe for success.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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