The Calgary Flames are set to announce their leadership group for the 2022–23 season, with the expectation that the team will name their first captain since the departure of Mark Giordano after the 2020–21 season. If the Flames do indeed name a captain, he will be just the second captain since 2003 when the Flames named Jarome Iginla their captain.
Let’s take a look through the history books of who the Flames have had as their captain in the past.
1980–1981: Brad Marsh
Brad Marsh was drafted 11th overall by the Atlanta Flames in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft, and he was named the first captain of the Calgary Flames when the team moved in 1980.
A character player, Marsh had 13 points and 87 penalty minutes in his first season with the C for the Flames.
1981–1982: Brad Marsh and Phil Russell
Marsh carried the C into the following season, but was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on Remembrance Day 1981. He was replaced by bruising blueliner Phil Russell that season. Russell had 29 points and 110 penalty minutes that season.
1982–1983: Phil Russell
Russell carried the C on his own the following season, and had 31 points and 112 penalty minutes for the Flames that year.
1983–1984: Lanny McDonald and Doug Risebrough
After Russell was traded to New Jersey in 1983, the Flames named Lanny McDonald and Doug Risebrough as co-captains that year. McDonald had 98 points that season for the Flames, and rose to prominence as one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Risebrough was a seventh overall pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1974, and helped the team win four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships from 1976–79. He was an agitator, but managed to put up 51 points in 77 games that season with the Flames.
1984–1987: Lanny McDonald, Doug Risebrough, and Jim Peplinski
The following season, the Flames named three captains in McDonald, Risebrough, and Jim Peplinski. They would run this trio for three seasons with great success.
Peplinski played his entire ten-season career with the Flames, and was a regular 40-point scorer for the team.
1987–1989: Lanny McDonald and Jim Peplinski
Risebrough played just 22 regular season games in the 1986–87 season, and hung up his skates after that season. The Flames went with McDonald and Peplinski from then on, and the two were co-captains as the Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989. McDonald scored the second goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, which would be the last in his Hall of Fame career.
1989-1990: Jim Peplinski and Brad McCrimmon
McDonald retired at the end of the 1988–89 season, and Peplinski took on the mantle of captain on his own. However, he would play just six games that season before retiring himself.
The Flames named Brad McCrimmon as the team’s captain on November 3, 1989—a position he would hold just for that season. McCrimmon would be traded following that season after he fell out of favour with Terry Crisp, the coach at the time.
1990–1991: No captain
Gilmour was an elite point-producer and Hall of Famer. He had 81 points in 78 games that season.
MacInnis was a 15th overall selection of the Flames in the 1981 entry draft. He had 103 points in 78 games for the Flames that season.
Enforcer Tim Hunter was drafted by the Atlanta Flames in the third round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. He had seven points and a whopping 143 penalty minutes that season. He finished with 3,146 penalty careers over his career in the NHL.
1991–1995: Joe Nieuwendyk
Named the 12th captain in franchise history, Joe Nieuwendyk was the Flames captain for four seasons through the early 1990s. He never had fewer than 50 points in a season in his time as captain, recording 75 points in both the 1992–93 and 1993–94 seasons. Contract issues kept him off the ice for the start of the 1995–96 season, and he was traded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Jarome Iginla that December.
1995–1997: Theoren Fleury
Theoren Fleury was named interim captain with the Nieuwendyk situation, and the interim tag was removed when the latter was traded to Dallas. He held this position for two years, but decided to give it up as he felt it impacted his relationship with his teammates and coach.
1997–1999: Todd Simpson
An undrafted player, Todd Simpson was signed by the Flames in 1994. He was named captain at the start of the 1997–98 season and held it for two years. He was not much of a point producer, never recording more than 15 points in any of his seasons in the league. He moved to Florida after the 1998–99 season.
1999–2000: Steve Smith
Steve Smith is best known for his time with the Edmonton Oilers, playing with the team from 1984–85 to the end of the 1990≠91 season. He retired in 1997 but came back in the 1998–99 season, and played two and a bit seasons with the Flames. He was the captain until he retired in November 2000 due to injuries.
2000–2001: Dave Lowry
Dave Lowry was named the captain despite joining the Flames at the beginning of that season. He was at the tail end of a very good career in the NHL, and put up 35 points in his time as captain.
2001–2002: Dave Lowry, Bob Boughner, and Craig Conroy
Boughner had just six points for the Flames that season, and would be with the team for one more season before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes following the 2002–03 season.
Conroy meanwhile, had 75 points in 81 games for the Flames, and was one of the team’s best players that year.
2002–2003: Craig Conroy
Conroy retained the captaincy alone the following season, and continued to be one of the team’s top point-producers that year. He had 59 points in 79 games, but gave up the captaincy to Iginla following that season.
2003–2014: Jarome Iginla
The Flames named Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla as the 18th captain in franchise history to start the 2003–04 season. He would serve in this role for nearly a decade, making him the longest serving captain in team history.
He holds the franchise record for most games played with 1,219, goals with 525, points with 1,095, and game-winning goals with 83. Iginla is a Hall of Famer, and has had his famous number 12 retired by the team. He led the team to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, and is far and away the best player in franchise history.
2014–2021: Mark Giordano
When the Flames traded Iginla to Pittsburgh in February of 2012, the captaincy remained unfilled for the balance of that year. The team named Mark Giordano as captain to start the 2013–14 season, a position he would hold until he was selected by the Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
Giordano became the heart and soul of the Flames team, and was the best blueliner on the team for much of his time with the C on his jersey. Giordano could not guide the team to the Stanley Cup Final like Iginla did, but did win the Norris Trophy at the age of 35 following the 2018–19 season. He also won the ESPN Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award for his community work in 2017.
A big responsibility to take on
Giordano left enormous shoes to fill both on and off the ice when he was selected by the Kraken, and became their first captain in franchise history. So big in fact that the Flames have not replaced him as captain to this point. While that may change this season, whoever comes in after him will have a long history of elite leaders to follow behind. Let’s see if they can wear the C with the same pride and dedication that those before did.