In the first 32 Thoughts podcast in over a month, Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson sat down with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman and Jeff Marek to talk all things Calgary Flames.
On everyone looking at the Flames and wondering what’s going to happen and who’s staying and who’s going
Right off the bat, Marek and Friedman hit Andersson with the same question everyone has been asking about the Flames: what is the direction of the team and roster? Andersson talked about trusting the direction the team is headed in and specifically having a trust in new GM Craig Conroy who he’s known since he was first drafted in 2015.
Andersson also went on to mentioned how he knows how much Conroy loves the Flames and wants what’s best for the team. Lastly he brought up the coaching changes and how he has worked with Ryan Huska dating all the way back to his first year in the AHL with the Stockton Heat where Huska was the head coach. He recalled how Huska has helped him develop over the past 7-8 years in the organization.
On the current situation surrounding the Flames’ expiring contracts
Andersson mentioned how Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund are in very different situations, and he understands that Backlund is in his mid 30s now and hasn’t won anything yet, so it makes sense that he wants to wait and see how the coming season plays out. He also mentioned how Chris Tanev is in the same situation and loves the city, but as a veteran who hasn’t won, he wants to make sure he has the best chance to win now.
For Lindholm, he understand how the business of it has to work on both sides when discussing a new contract for a player in his situation, and at this stage of his career.
On proving the doubters wrong in 2023-24
Andersson discussed how the guys are excited to get back to playing knowing what happened last year because they want to prove everyone wrong.
“We are a good team, we lost 17 games in overtime. If we win five of those we’re in the playoffs… We’ve all got that chip on our shoulder, we want to prove the doubters wrong.”Andersson on proving the doubters wrong after a tough season
On the Flames struggles last season
Andersson specifically called out the infamous game against the Boston Bruins late in the season. He mentioned how the Flames went up against the top team in the league, dominated them, outshot the by a huge margin but ended up losing in overtime. He said that game was a perfect description of how the entire 2022-23 season felt.
He also called out just how many one goal games the Flames were in that they didn’t end up winning. He said the team needs to focus on how they are going to get to a point where they’re winning those tight games this coming season. He also alluded to the fact that the Flames were scared of losing last season and that led to them sitting back in the third period instead of trying to win the game in regulation.
On missing Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau in tight games
Andersson mentioned how the big difference between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 season was the Flames inability to win those big games that came down to the wire. In particular he brought up how in 2021-22, Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk would make sure the team was winning those tight games by putting the team on their back each night.
He compared that to this past season where without those top guys carrying the team you need to win as a team with everyone doing their part, however it felt like the Flames were scared to take a chance late in the game and weren’t doing everything they could to win games.
Dealing with the aftermath of a crazy 2022 offseason
Andersson mentioned just how much of a shock the Tkachuk trade was to himself and the rest of the team. Seeing the number of major pieces coming back to Calgary he said it was important to make those new guys feel comfortable. He also mentioned he totally understand how it would’ve been a massive shock to Johnathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar going from a small market in Florida to a hockey-crazy Canadian market in Calgary.
On finding quietness while playing in a Canadian market
Andersson discussed how there’s never a quiet period playing in a Canadian market. He mentioned how the fans are so passionate that they talk about every player, evaluate every player, and write about every player. He said everyone in Calgary knows who you are and who you represent so it’s impossible to have a quiet season. He continually mentioned how you need to “embrace the chaos” if you want to have success in a Canadian market.
On Jonathan Huberdeau’s struggles
Andersson said he’s excited for the coming season for Jonathan Huberdeau to get his feet under him and have something to prove. He mentioned how everyone talks about Huberdeau having the biggest point drop off in NHL history, but everyone in the locker room knows how good of a player he really is. He mentioned how Huberdeau has everything needed to succeed and he has no doubt he’s going to come into the season with a chip on his shoulder be be one of the best players in the league again.
Andersson would love to be the Flames next captain
Andersson said being given the captaincy is something a player would never turn down.
“I would obviously love to be the captain of the Calgary Flames. We have a lot of great leaders. Whoever Conroy and Huska pick, it’s gonna be the right pick. I would embrace the challenge and opportunity. If it’s not me and it’s someone else, it’s gonna be the right call. I have so much trust in Conroy, Huska and the owners.Andersson on the Flames naming a captain
Andersson believes the Flames have really missed having a captain
Andersson flat out said the Flames really missed having a captain since Mark Giordano left.
“In a Canadian market you need someone to step up towards the media, towards the coaches, towards the owners. There’s so much pressure on the players. When we had Gio he would embrace that and he would step up.”Andersson on the Flames not having a captain
In one of the more interesting tidbits of the interview, Andersson specifically called out how everyone in the room understands that Backlund is the captain of the Flames. He mentioned how Backlund operated as the captain in 2022-23, specifically in the room. He even mentioned that Backlund told him he knows he’s the captain to the players, but without the actual C on his jersey he can’t do everything he wants to.
The Flames are a team to watch
As the 2023-24 season approaches, the Flames are a team that the entire league will be focused on. While they’ve been quiet in the offseason thus far, that isn’t likely to continue as training camp inches nearer.