The Calgary Flames have loaded up in recent years with Czech players, adding Ladislav Smid, Michael Frolik and Jiri Hudler to bolster their roster. Heck, one of their more useful young assets of the Jay Feaster Era was Czech forward Roman Horak.
But the most useful, dangerous Czech in Calgary Flames history? Why, it’s the latest member of the All-Time Team and one of the most pleasant surprises (and best pure goal-scorers) of the dismal 1990s – Robert Reichel.
Robert Reichel is perhaps the textbook example of what you hope happens when you draft promising but unrefined players in the mid-to-late rounds of a draft. Originally selected in the fourth round in 1989, Reichel was an offensively strong player in the Czech league. The big question mark – his defensive play, particularly in the NHL with smaller ice and bigger bodies.
In the end, his defensive game didn’t really matter when the Flames were deep in the early 1990s. He opened his NHL tenure in 1990-91 with a pretty strong 41 point campaign, then progressively improved his offensive output in each of his next three seasons – including a pair of 40-goal seasons.
Reichel was a supremely-talented goal-scorer. His scoring ability out-stripped his pay, and then he went to Frankfurt, Germany during the 1994-95 lockout. He came back to Calgary and played out his contract, but he had a big-money offer from Germany that the Flames were hesitant to match. He stayed in Germany for 1995-96 while the Flames got swept in the playoffs by Chicago, so the Flames shelled out the bucks to get their sniper back. And then he wasn’t quite as good as they had remembered, so they ended up trading him (and his big contract) to the New York Islanders for Tyrone Garner, Marty McInnis and a draft pick.
Garner, McInnis and the pick didn’t amount to much, but getting three assets for a player that was selected with a fourth round pick is pretty impressive asset management.
- Has one of just 24 90+ point seasons in Flames history (93 in 1993-94)
- Has two of just 25 40+ goal seasons in Flames history (40 in both 1992-93 and 1993-94)
- 17th in All-Time Flames Points (354)
- Led Flames in scoring in 1993-94
During the 1990s, the Calgary Flames scoring leaderboard was dominated by Theoren Fleury. From 1990-91 to 1999-2000, there were four seasons were Fleury didn’t lead the two in scoring – two of them after he left the team. The two players that out-scored Fleury as his teammate? Gary Roberts and Robert Reichel.
There are more complete hockey players on the All-Time Flames Team than Robert Reichel. He was not a three-dimensional player. But man, the dimensions he had were pretty great. And if you had the right teammates that could work to cover up his imperfections, he was a really good player to have on your side.