A history of Flames numbers: #11, Mikael Backlund

If you want to get really traditional, players have to graduate to a non-training camp number – that is to say, a lower one. A lot of training camp numbers tend to be high and look odd and out of place, but it kind of fits: when they make the team for real, they’ll get their number for real.

Mikael Backlund started life in the NHL as #60, but once he made it full time, he took over #11. He’s already one of the longest-tenured Flames to wear it.

#11 on the Flames

Backlund is the 19th player on the Flames to ever wear #11:

  • RW Leon Rochefort
  • C Bill Hogaboam
  • C Claude St. Sauveur
  • RW Bob MacMillan
  • D Al MacInnis
  • C Bobby Lalonde
  • C Steve Christoff
  • W Colin Patterson
  • RW Gary Leeman
  • LW Chris Lindberg
  • C Kelly Kisio
  • LW Pat Conacher
  • C Eric Landry
  • C Jeff Shantz
  • C Stephane Yelle
  • RW Owen Nolan
  • RW Fredrik Sjostrom
  • LW Niklas Hagman
  • C Mikael Backlund

We’ve entered the realm of almost exclusively forwards – except hey, what up, MacInnis! Of course, MacInnis isn’t well known or wearing #11, and he only wore it for like, the two games he played in the 1981-82 season. That’s it. So technically he does count, but otherwise, this list is populated by forwards.

A pretty healthy mix of them, too. The number has consistently been Backlund’s for a while now, but it did experience a bit of Dion Phaneuf trade-related turmoil right before he upgraded. 

The best #11

11flamesgpp

Okay obviously it’s MacInnis but he only played two games wearing that number. Also, it’s kind of unfair; it’s Al MacInnis

So next on the list, at least in terms of points per game, would appear to be a mix of Kisio, Nolan, and MacMillan (Leeman is kind of in there, but I get the feeling it’s not quite through an optimal circumstance…). Well, Nolan only played one season in Calgary, and Kisio spent just his final years here. MacMillan is a pretty great candidate, though.

Backlund is still fighting to be a half a point per game player, and a good season could see him finally make it. He’s still a bit further down the list, though, and the chances of him rising high into the top ranks may not be that great – especially if he’s playing mostly a defensive role.

Then again, Yelle was hardly a great point scorer, but easy to love. And it’s not like Backlund will ever be at the bottom.

Previous numbers

#1Brian Elliott #3Jyrki Jokipakka
#5Mark Giordano #6Dennis Wideman
#7T.J. Brodie
  • cberg

    Ari, not a fan of these # articles. In fact this is the first I’ve even glanced at. I realize these are the doldrums of hockey news and it must be difficult to come up with good ideas, but perhaps you should put up an article requesting feedback and ideas from the readers?

      • Joe Flames

        yes, it is nice to see some of the old names from the past and remember that they actually played for the flames at one point. Wish I could forget Leeman though!!

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      It’s the first you’ve glanced at, but you’re not a fan? Good job giving it the time of day. Maybe you could better spend your valuable time doing things other than dropping sh!77y comments. This one is about all the feedback from you that is required.

      • cberg

        Hey D&TF,
        C’mon, get a grip…. mine was an honest comment, wasn’t attacking and was suggesting readers might have some other ideas to try. If you don’t like that its your opinion, but…. FN has had articles exactly as I’ve suggested in years past and the writers have got some good ideas from the readership. If Ari’s not interested, fine. If she is, that might lead to some new, welcome ideas.

    • Ari Yanover

      I’m sorry the daily free #content hasn’t been up to your standards. I thought these would be interesting little snippets to do in the dead weeks of summer (particularly something I could pre-write en bulk for when I knew real life was going to get insanely busy for me to the point of me not having enough time to sleep, let alone write), but I guess I was wrong? Well I’m committed and I’m enjoying it so I’m gonna finish going through anyway, I like jersey numbers.

      We’ll have some prospect stuff coming up in August and I’m open to any other suggestions you (or anyone else) may have.

      Sorry if this comment is a little snarky but I can’t remember the last time I even had a moment to myself so…

      • cberg

        Ari, Hope you get some restful time over the summer. As for the #articles, its not standards that I was commenting on, and glad some others are enjoying them.

      • al rain

        The advertisements suggest this website is a business. If so, then your #content is your product and your readers, including the ones who give constructive criticism, are your customers.

        Just saying.

      • KACaribou

        I guess the major problem with FN continues to be that writers here seem to be happier developing cult members than they do readers with real opinions.

        Gawd help anyone who thinks outside the box.

        Personally I have no problem with these articles but I think someone who does not like them should be able to say so. Ari doesn’t mind trashing Flames players.

  • piscera.infada

    I was a big, big fan of Yelle. I remember playing centre as a kid and my dad telling me to watch Yelle in the defnsive zone. He was a legit defensive centre–sometimes to a fault. I still keep that mind, even in beer league games (where it seems no one plays defense).

    • Baalzamon

      Lots of respect for defensive forwards. They get no credit from typical fans unless they’re like 6’5″ (see: Backlund, Mikael). Defensive defensemen, on the other hand, don’t even have to be good to get credit for what they supposedly do.

      • cberg

        Its so true that defensive specialists have a hard time getting recognized, as there is such a strong focus on stats lines. With the continuing acceptance of more advanced stats its becoming easier to pinpoint defensive contributions and to give credit where credit is due.

      • jupiter

        Not sure what “typical fans” thought, but Stephen Yelle was highly regarded by Flames fans as well as his peers and coaches throughout the league.

        He was a tougher version of Backland,but not quite as skilled.

    • jupiter

      Thanks for hard work Ari.Much appreciated.

      I would like to see more analytics.
      What is the make-up of an elite skater?
      What is a elite skate and why?
      Body weight vs skating ability?
      Body length vs skating ability?
      Skate technology?

      • Ari Yanover

        This is all really interesting stuff! And crazy in-depth, and definitely time-consuming – but probably a really fun project to look into. Maybe sometime in August, hopefully?

        @Thunder1

        I’mma do a Monahan article just for you.

        @WW

        Actually an in-depth look at Huska (and Troy Ward, while we’re at it) would be a fun project. Consider it on the list.

      • Jake the Snail

        How about an article on the analytics guy who was fired in Montreal for suggesting PK Subban NOT be traded? Was this the only reason or did he suggest other trades that didn’t pan out?

        Along with an update on teams that employ a full-time analytics person….

        Or maybe you can just write a quick response here, either way…thanks Ari!

    • The GREAT Walter White

      Please have the courage to write an honest article on the effectiveness of
      Huska…

      All the forwards he has so called “developed” (and posters were parading around as examples) have been released.
      Grant, Agostino, Arnold…

      Have some journalistic integrity….please….

      WW

      • cberg

        WW, personally I think Huska has done a fine job. Overall games have improved considerably in quite a number of players, but admittedly their stats lines have suffered as a result. Whether this is temporary or nor while they worked on other things is debatable. The other thing that he has done marvellously is prepare guys to come up to the Flames and fit in pretty seamlessly, which happened, again with several players. How this aspect evolves with GG remains to be seen.

        As far as Agostino and Arnold, and to a lessor degree Grant are concerned, I’m still disappointed on their release and have hopes they might catch on still, but I guess we will see. One of the challenges with a high number of draft picks plus additional signings is an excess of players to fit into the system, and something has to give somewhere.

        As for your suggestion, I too would be interested in a historical review of Huska, which would be enlightening and shed some light on his player development capabilities, including the issues I raise above.

  • Franko J

    Personally I never realized how synonymous the # 11 is with “defensive” forwards. From Patterson to Backlund there has been some good memories provided by the # 11.

  • MonsterPod

    Backlund article!!!

    Backlund, Backlund.

    Uh… Mikael Backlund…

    Backlund, Backlund, Backs Backs Backs Backs!

    Oh Backsie, Backer, Backgammon, Backman…

    All the Mikael Backlund, all the time.

    BACKLUND!

  • capcurago

    Ari an idea for an article series; lessons from contenders past.

    Once Johnny and Monny are signed, we are going to have the type of expensive core that is difficult to build championships around. Would love to see an article on comparing contender-structures.

    I’d like to believe that the best model involves never paying for goaltending but elite goaltending is special and probably more often than not, contenders pay for their goaltending.

    Where do cheap replacements fit in? There must be something to the idea that the farm should be producing productive bottom pair defencemen and the odd above replacement level forward.

    Where do cheap veterans fit in? How important is coaching? What teams have won with their best player being a (little) winger?

    That’s actually another article. Can Brodie and Bennett get to another level sooner than later? We probably can’t win it all with Johnny as our key player.

    I would also like to add that I highly recommend finding a healthy cadence for your writing. We are insatiable so you should find a pace that works for you, not us.

    • cberg

      Perhaps an article on coaching, its importance, its impact and its intimate system details that vary by team. Perhaps from a point of view of several before and after coaching “pairs” e.g. Pittsburg last season and how things changed and what impact it had on the team both on and off the ice.

    • Ari Yanover

      I don’t know why this got trashes because I like just about everything in here (and had plans to do something on a similar vein to at least one of these ideas once I had time again).

      Thank you for the suggestions, all!

  • freethe flames

    Ari this is the first of these articles I have read and then to see you and the article get bashed is a little silly. I hope that BT will soon announce some real hockey news that we can all sink our teeth into. In the mean time write what you want and take some time for yourself.

  • cberg

    Another idea would be an insider’s view of the locker room, its dynamics, its issues and just some of the hidden things normal fans never get to see. I’m wondering if that could be compiled by talking with previous players and their sharing of their own experiences, without naming names and throwing guys under the bus. Ya know, high points, low points, funniest things, coach interactions…