Watching Jarome Iginla get into a minor dust-up against his former team last night was weird. There’s a general strangeness when players who were once on your team are now playing against it, but with somebody as prolific as Iginla, it gets a little weirder.
Not that seeing him compete is odd – on the contrary – but seeing him get into a physical altercation, however minor, against players wearing the same jersey he himself wore for years is slightly more jarring.
And it got me thinking: just how much player turnover has there been on the Flames since Iginla last played for Calgary?
There are seven players still on the Flames Iginla would have been familiar with prior to leaving the team nearly three years ago, back on March 27, 2013. They are:
- Mikael Backlund
- Lance Bouma
- T.J. Brodie
- Mark Giordano
- Jiri Hudler
- Matt Stajan
- Dennis Wideman
Out of a roster of 24 (compensating for the injured Michael Frolik, but keeping in mind Markus Granlund, who just feels like an established member of the team at this point), that’s just a little over a quarter of them who once played on the same team as Iginla.
The changes have been sweeping, as a rebuild has necessitated. And they’ll continue further, as Hudler is likely gone this season, and Wideman probably the next, if not sooner.
The Flames will definitely retain some ties to the Iginla era, as Brodie and Giordano certainly aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and neither may Backlund, Bouma, or, to a lesser extent, Stajan. But with just a quarter of the current roster left who could once call him a teammate, they’ve come a pretty long ways.
Gotten much younger
The end of the Iginla era in Calgary was met with the screaming need to rebuild, a result of next to no youth on the Flames or prospects in the system. So it’s not surprising that of the six players remaining, only Bouma, Brodie and Backlund are under 30 years old. This was three years ago; they were 21, 22 and 23. The next youngest regular player from that roster was Chris Butler, then 25.
Yeah, it was an old team. Today’s Flames are still led in part by Brodie, now 25 himself, but their more prominent players are now around the same age as Brodie and Backlund were back then, if not younger. The Flames are now a team with 10 players who are 25 years old or younger: nearly half their roster, only one of whom (Brodie) ever played with Iginla.
And there are likely still more to come on the horizon, as expiring contracts inevitably get moved out and additional prospects work to establish themselves as NHLers similar to what Micheal Ferland and Markus Granlund are currently doing.
None of this really comes as a surprise. Rosters change all the time as teams strive to improve year after year. But it is a little reminder of just how far the Flames, in the third year of their rebuild, have come.
Three years ago there was no youth; today, the youth almost make up the majority. And after years of aimlessly wandering the desert, they’re finally better for it: if not a playoff team, then at least a team with direction.