The 10 Best Flames Defenders Ever – #6 to #10

As we’ve learned in the past couple of seasons here in Calgary, defense is incredibly important and it helps to have good defensemen on your side. In four decades of Flames hockey, there have been a few really good defenders and a handful of great ones.

Here’s the first half of our rundown of the ten best Flames defensemen in history.


Flame from 1978-79 to 1982-83

Phil Russell was a 30-point defensemen. He came over to the Atlanta Flames mid-season from Chicago in a seven-player deal, and I have to think the idea was to bring a bit of veteran leadership to the young club. He kept chugging along, scoring 30 points and being a gritty veteran – he averaged less than half a point and more than a PIM and a half per game as a Flame. He was named Calgary’s second captain after the team relocated, but wasn’t indispensable enough to avoid being traded while holding that post in the summer of 1983. He was pretty good, but not great.


Flame from 1997-98 to 2000-01

Remember when Flames drafting was really awful? Well, Derek Morris was one of just a few Flames first rounders from the 1990s to turn into solid NHL players and tradeable assets. Morris was considered a bit of a reach when he was drafted, but he turned into a pretty good 200-foot defender with some nice offensive touch. He was eventually flipped to the Colorado Avalanche in a deal that made Stephane Yelle a Flame.


Flame from 1994-95 to 1995-96 and 1998-99 to 2000-01

Soon to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Housley’s one of the rare class of players – players they acquired twice and cast off twice. Originally brought to town as part of the Al MacInnis trade, Housley was what everyone expected: a supremely-talented offensive player with some minor defensive holes. Were the holes big? Oh, heck no. In fact, Housley was 30 when he arrived in Calgary and as he aged, he lost a bit of his foot-speed: but his vision and shooting was good enough that teams still wanted him deep into his 30s. The Flames flipped him to the Devils in the Tommy Albelin deal after a couple seasons, then brought him back off of waivers prior to the 1998-99 season. Fittingly, he was grabbed by the Blackhawks at the waiver draft after a few offensively productive seasons as a Flame.


Flame from 2005-06 to 2009-10

The Darryl Sutterest player there ever was, Phaneuf was a crazy-good junior player who just physically punished opposition players and seemed to enjoy his work. He had a few really good seasons in Calgary – he finished 8th, 6th and 2nd in Norris balloting in his first three seasons in Calgary – but at his worst, fell into Denis Gauthier Syndrome, the pursuit of a sweet hit (or goal) to the detriment of defensive play. When the wheels began to fall off for the Sutter-era Flames, he was traded to Toronto.


Flame from 1979-80 to 1987-88

One of the most offensively gifted Flames players in franchise history, Reinhart was hampered by back injuries throughout his tenure with the club, but still managed to put up gaudy numbers. An amazingly strong skater with good vision and an accurate shot, he was tailor-made for the wide-open ’80s. He was flipped to the Vancouver Canucks the summer prior to the Flames Stanley Cup season and had three sons who are all pretty decent hockey players.

  • KACaribou

    You have some audacity Pike. You know next to nothing about the history of the Flames and yet you persist on making lists you have no idea about.

    Not including Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald was an embarrassment for you.

    So you try a new list?

    Right off: Derek Morris was terribly average as a Flame and as he has been his whole career. If he is actually in our top 10 D of all time it speaks very poorly of this hockey franchise.

    You better have some HOFers to leave Paul Reinhart out of the top 5. But of course I am looking forward to laughing at your choices made simply looking at a stats sheet.

  • mk

    I can think of 2 or maybe 3 ahead of Reinhart. The guy is the 10th all time leading scorer and was good defensively. This top 5 will be interesting. Macinnis, Suter, Gio, Macoun, ???

  • mk

    Let me guess, Al MacInnis won’t be in the top 10 either? Am I still bitter about Lanny being left out of the top 10? Yes. 🙂

    Serious though: I’m guessing MacInnis, Suter, Giordano, Macoun and Regehr make up the top 5 (in that order from 1st to 5th).

  • Burnward

    Head scratching over that Morris pick. He was okay. Nothing more than that.

    Phaneuf fell off his game more because he lost his steady-hand partner Roman Hamrlik, perhaps the most underrated d-man and someone who will likely not be on this list.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Mccrimmon, Macoun, Giordano, Regehr, Suter and MacInnis are all no brainers to be on this list…that’s 6 Dmen right there and there are only 5 spots left…which means Pike has once again left off a no brainer pick.

    Missing Lanny was actually mind boggling and borderline criminal, the guy is in the shrine of all shrines, the Hockey Hall of Fame yet wasn’t good enough for this Pike kid

  • BurningSensation

    Pike isn’t a hockey guy, I would honestly be shocked if he’s ever even laced them up and played organized hockey at any reputable level.

    Apparently on FN you don’t need to be a hockey guy to write about said sport, if you can read a spreadsheet your an authority on all things hockey.

    See Lanny McDonald omission

    • mk

      I strongly disagree that you need to have played hockey at any organized level to be good at analyzing hockey. There are a fair number of strong hockey minds that were never players at an organized level. The same is true of analysts and media types.

      That being said, I don’t understand how Lanny McDonald was left off the list of the top-10 Flames’ forwards of all time. An egregious oversight, if I’ve ever seen one. As Jack Doff said, there are 6 players left that are easy picks to be in the top-10, meaning another got left out.

      And Bouwmeester had better not be in the top 5.

  • Big Ell

    Are we sure that these are only Pike’s choices? I am pretty sure that the horrible best flames team was a collaborative effort. These are pretty funny though.

  • Big Ell

    Pure comedy really watching these kids likely born in the 80’s (or even 90’s) writing articles and acting as experts on players they never were old enough to even watch.

  • Listen folks.

    I get that these lists can be contentious and that’s part of the fun of doing them. We want there to be disagreements and debates. All we’re doing here is presenting cases for each guy for the purposes of talking points. Derek Morris isn’t going to have his jersey retired or his statue erected on 17th avenue.

    I have no idea why this sort of thing would lead you to personally attack and demean the people writing this stuff, which is done strictly for your entertainment. If you don’t like it, close the window. If you disagree, disagree like an adult and make a counter argument that doesn’t include ad hominem attacks. If you think you can do better, start your own blog.

    We want this to be a place where passion can co-exist with disagreement and debate. We want people to be comfortable to share their opinions both in the comments and in the articles.

    We’ll have new moderators starting this week. On top of patrolling for trolls and bad language, we’ll also be policing pot shots at FN’s writers. If your rebuttal consists of snide remarks and name calling it’ll get deleted. If it persists, you’ll get the boot.

    Thank you.

    • mk

      Kent – good to hear. I’d bet many of the regulars would agree with you. Its fantastic to have an exchange of ideas and arguments about the Flames and hockey in general. Not fantastic to have posters attacking each other with no real discussion. Theoretically, FN (and associated sites) have always been a place where the focus has been on the facts of hockey, not the intangibles (as they are, by definition, unable to be grasped or touched). We’re looking forward to a better environment in the comments.

      To add a suggestion: it would be great if the writers were to follow-up in the comment sections for the day or so following an article to explain their thoughts and defend their arguments. Many do, but not always.

    • Kent – I applaud what your doing…as long as it works both ways.

      I saw numerous times last season Ryan Lambert demeaning and insulting posters. I’ve also, albeit to a lesser degree seen BookofLoob make some less than professional and uncalled for comments towards posters. Go to Matchsticks, Ari constantly swears and uses fowl language that is uncalled for while belittling players, which creates an unprofessional and negative environment.

      For this to work and you folks get the “buy-in” your asking for, it needs to be fair and not be a double standard.

  • it’s sad Kent had to post that. I used to love reading the comments section, but it seems to have eroded into a high school lunch room.

    People can’t seems to handle different opinions. Be it well though out posts, or innocent questions getting trashed, all the way to personal flaming. It’s getting tiresome. Here’s to hoping this is happening cause people just need their regular season NHL fix.