The Calgary Flames are a professional ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The club is the third major-professional ice hockey team to represent the city of Calgary, following the Calgary Tigers (1921–1927) and Calgary Cowboys (1975–1977). The Flames are one of two NHL franchises in Alberta; the other is the Edmonton Oilers. The cities' proximity has led to a rivalry known as the "Battle of Alberta".
Calgary is a city in the Canadian province of Alberta. It is situated at the confluence of the Bow River and the Elbow River in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, about 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The city anchors the south end of what Statistics Canada defines as the "Calgary–Edmonton Corridor." Calgary, a cosmopolitan Alberta city with numerous skyscrapers, owes its rapid growth to its status as the centre of Canada’s oil industry. However, it’s still steeped in the western culture that earned it the nickname “Cowtown,” evident in the Calgary Stampede, its massive July rodeo and festival that grew out of the farming exhibitions once presented here.
The Calgary Flames were founded in 1972 in Atlanta as the Atlanta Flames until relocating to Calgary in 1980. The Flames played their first three seasons in Calgary at the Stampede Corral before moving into their current home arena, the Scotiabank Saddledome (originally known as the Olympic Saddledome), in 1983. In 1985–86, the Flames became the first Calgary team since the 1923–24 Tigers to compete for the Stanley Cup. In 1988–89, the Flames won their first and only championship. The Flames' unexpected run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals gave rise to the Red Mile, and in 2011 the team hosted and won the second Heritage Classic outdoor game.
The Flames were relatively successful early on when they started. Under head coaches Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, Fred Creighton and Al MacNeil, the Flames made the playoffs in six of eight seasons in Atlanta. In marked contrast, their expansion cousins, the Islanders, won only 31 games during their first two years in the league combined. However, this relative success did not carry over to the playoffs, as the Flames won only two post-season games during their time in Atlanta.
After seven consecutive seasons of not making the playoffs, the Flames finally returned to the post-season in 2004. They became the first team in league history to defeat three division champions en route to becoming the first Canadian team to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals since the Canucks in 1994. The Flames' first victim was the Northwest Division champion Vancouver Canucks, whom they defeated in seven games. It was the Flames' first playoff series win since they won the 1989 final. The Flames then upset the Presidents' Trophy winning Detroit Red Wings in six games. After eliminating the Pacific Division champion San Jose Sharks, also in six games, in the Western Conference Final, the Flames earned a trip to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals to face the Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin Gelinas scored the winning goal in all three series. The Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., flew the Flames flag beside the Maple Leaf, while Prime Minister Paul Martin dubbed the Flames "Canada's team".
Calgary Flames fans were undoubtedly disappointed in the way this past year went. A year after making the playoffs, the Flames sputtered to an 84 point season. Injuries, lack of chemistry, and scoring problems made it a very long season. This season brings new beginnings and new hopes. Don’t look now, but the Flames are a team to watch in 2018-2019 for a lot of reasons. They are one of the rebuild teams with younger players on their roster and they are ready to win. The older players may not be around this season either the way it’s looking for the Flames. It would be great to see more Canadian teams making progress like the Winnipeg Jets did in the playoffs.
Here is why they will be a team to watch this season. The Calgary Flames acquired Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Derek Ryan, James Neal, Austin Czarnik, and several more depth pieces that nobody has heard of. So far they’ve only disposed of Dougie Hamilton and Michael Ferland. That’s a lot more addition than subtraction. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that some of our regulars from last year will not be around this season. They had one of the busiest off-seasons in the NHL this summer. It seems that the main goal for Brad Treliving was to help an offense that struggled to score beyond their top six last year. Sean Monahan was on pace for 34 goals and Matthew Tkachuk was on pace for 29 goals, had their seasons not been cut short due to injuries. Johnny Gaudreau was streaky at times, but overall their most consistent forward. Outside of these three, the Flames were mostly stagnant offensively. Monahan and Gaudreau were the only two skaters to surpass the 50 point mark. It’s tough to win with numbers like that, especially with the momentum they will need for the playoffs.
This means that the core of the Calgary Flames is very young. There are a lot of guys that have been growing over the last couple of seasons and many more that we can expect to continue to get better. Matt Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, Noah Hanifin, Spencer Foo, Sean Monahan, Mark Jankowski, Brett Kulak, Austin Czarnik, and Sam Bennett are all 25 years old or younger. There is a lot of potential in that list. And that’s just those on the active roster. If even just a couple of those names takes a step forward this year, the Flames will have even more depth. Expectations should be fairly high going into this season. It may take some time for the Flames to get going with a new coach and a slew of new players, but when they do get their chemistry down there is no reason why this team can’t be in the race for the division.
Harvey the Hound is the Flames' mascot. He was created in 1983 to serve both with the Flames and the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Harvey was the first mascot in the NHL. Harvey is famous for an incident in January 2003 where he had his tongue ripped out by Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish as he was harassing their bench. The incident made headlines throughout North America and led to much humour, including having many other NHL team mascots arrive at the 2003 All-Star Game with their tongues hanging out. So keep you eyes on the Flames this year and hopefully the team will be making a run for the cup in the post regular season. That way you will be seeing a lot of Harvey the Hound.