FN’s All-Time Greatest Flames Team: Jim Peplinski

As we roar onwards with our All-Time Flames Team, we get to a player that never really put up insane numbers but was crucial to the Calgary Flames success in the 1980s – Jim Peplinski!

While he wasn’t quite as good as Calgary’s elite players, Peplinski personified teamwork, on-ice leadership and toughness. And he was good enough to play with the team’s elite players, as well as rugged enough to make space for them when they needed somebody to.


Jim Peplinski was primarily a complementary player, but he wasn’t by any stretch a bad player. He fought a ton – he was north of 100 penalty minutes in each of the nine full seasons he spent in Calgary – but he also scored a fair bit. He scored 30 goals once and 20 goals twice, so he wasn’t just a guy there to punch people and use his big frame to allow the Flames’ skill players to shine.

Peplinski was one of the most respected players on the team. I believe he was the only Flames player that was on the original 1980-81 team that made it to the third round of the playoffs, the 1985-86 team that made the first Final run, and the 1988-89 team that captured the Cup. He served as a co-captain during the Stanley Cup victory, and represented Canada at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

All-in-all, he’s one of the best all-around “team” guys in Flames history. You don’t win championships without a few guys like Jim Peplinski on your side.



  • 6th in All-Time Flames Games Played (711)
  • 10th in All-Time Flames Assists (263)
  • 14th in All-Time Flames Points (424)
  • 4th in All-Time Flames Penalty Minutes (1467)
  • Served as co-captain of the Flames from 1984-85 until 1988-89


Jim Peplinski was never the best player on any particular season’s version of the Calgary Flames. The highest he ever finished on the team’s scoring rankings was sixth or seventh. But he was a big part of some of the team’s biggest battles and most impressive team accomplishments, scoring goals at key moments and adding a physical touch whenever he found the opportunity. He made two trips to the Stanley Cup Final, went to the Olympics, and was a co-captain when the team finally captured the Stanley Cup. His entire NHL career spanned the rise of the 1980s-era Flames – beginning with their arrival in Calgary as a rookie and culminating with the big win in ’89 as the team’s veteran leader.

That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

  • nikkomsgb

    Pepper was a key part of the Flames and brought energy and leadership. He’s been a great alumnus and representative of the team in the community.

    I don’t know why but in the 80s my dad hated him. Perhaps he thought the C should be reserved for a more talented player. Perhaps he thought Pepper took dumb penalties. Perhaps my old man was just a dick. But he hated him. So much so that his best friend bought him a Peplinski jersey to torment him. A good sport was my old man. He wore it dutifully to games here and on the road.

    We haven’t seen how you’re putting this All Time Greatest Flames Team together, by lines or just a bunch of great guys? I assume he’s your 4th line RW

    hmmm not RW… LW?

    • KACaribou

      Nothing against Willie Plett, but I agree with you. I like Peplinski too, but I think this is a silly choice and Willie Plett might just be a better choice. Both great team guys, who would fight to the death. But all time greats? No.

  • KACaribou

    Remember when he made a comeback during the Young Guns era?

    Yeah, this choice totally stymies me, unless I can also expect to see Zarley Zalapski, Rocky Thompson and Freddy Braithwaite on this list too.

  • KACaribou

    Peplinski is certainly one of the key figures of Flames history, a stand-up “glue” guy that every great team needs, and a superb role player.

    If this exercise is to name the best all-time true Flames team, factoring in chemistry, roles and fit along with talent (which may altogether be more fascinating and create even more debate), then Peplinski should definitely be on there. But I agree with the above, he likely doesn’t belong on a list of the Flames best 12-13 forwards of all-time.