Hakan Loob, a name synonymous with the Flames of the ’80s. He was the ultimate fan favorite, adored by the entire Flames fan base. He was only a member of the Flames for six seasons but left his mark on the organization and is an obvious choice for FN’s All-Time Greatest Flames Team.
Loob was a fantastic skater and very mobile with or without the puck. As a small player, he knew how to use his speed to his advantage and often controlled the pace of play on the ice when he was on. Loob could play any left side in the top 9 as he was an incredible offensive playmaking talent but was also very strong defensively.
Loob was selected in the now non-existent 9th round (181st overall) of the 1980 NHL draft. A steal of a 9th round pick to be sure but Loob was not the typical draft pick. He had already toiled around in the SEL for three years and was just about to turn 20 when he was selected after having a moderately successful season with the Farjestads BK Karlstad, registering 19 points in 36 games (NHLE of approximately 34). He played another two years with Farjestads, increasing his offensive production every year, ultimately winning the Gulpucken award for the best player in the SEL in the 1982-83 season after setting a record in goals (42) and points (76) in only 36 games. Some have even dubbed Loob the “Gretzky of Sweden” for the amount of records he has set in the SEL. After that incredible record setting season in Sweden, Loob joined the Flames for the entirety of the 1983-84 season.
Loob emerged as a Top 6 winger nearly immediately, putting up 55 points in his first season, following it up with 72 points in 78 games in his sophomore season. Loob continued to put up just short of a point per game throughout his career and became the first Swedish player to ever record 50 goals in an NHL season.
Loob culminated his career in 1988-89 by winning the Stanley Cup, playing a main role in the regular season and playoffs, often creating a deadly duo with Joe Nieuwendyk. It was known that during the 1989 playoffs and even earlier that Loob wanted to return to Sweden. Upon winning the NHL’s ultimate prize, the 29 year-old homesick Loob, who wanted his children to grow up in Sweden, moved back to Sweden to finish his pro hockey career, ending a possible Hall of Fame career in the NHL.
- 12th in all-time points
- 10th in all-time goals
- 14th in all-time assists
- 9th in all-time plus/minus (5th amongst forwards)
- One of only six Flames to record a 50+ goal season
- First Team All-Star (1987-88)
- 3rd in single-season points (106 points in 1987-88)
Loob left the NHL and returned to Sweden at arguably the peak of his career. Had he returned to the Flames, he might have provided another lethal option to a nearly intact 1989-90 Flames team that was still a very good hockey team. Maybe he provided just enough spark to get them through a few more playoff rounds in the coming years or maybe not. We’ll never know. But Loob left the NHL his way, after accomplishing all he wanted to after only six years in the league, and he remains a legend nearly 30 years later.