Since Mark Giordano was named the Flames’ captain back at the start of the 2013-14 season, Calgary has had a handful of different guys perform the task as alternates. Most recently, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, and Sean Monahan have carried that role, with a handful of other names, mostly since departed, who have worn the ‘A’ for a brief period of time.
Well, curiously enough, the Flames do not currently list any alternate captains. And considering the turnover ongoing in the club – Russell is gone, Wideman is almost certainly gone within the year, Monahan is going to be around forever hopefully – the lack of alternates at this point in time isn’t exactly surprising.
That means there’s room, though. And the Flames have a handful of potential candidates already.
Backlund has already worn the ‘A’ for the Flames in the past. It hasn’t been for too long – just a couple of times when other players were injured – but he’s had it.
He’s also worn it the past two times he’s played for Team Sweden at the World Championships. Out of everybody on the Flames, he and Giordano have been around the longest. He’s been through the playoff droughts, and has stuck around year after year after year, present when the Flames delayed their rebuild, and then finally, during the rebuild itself.
Backlund has matured over the years into the most responsible two-way player on the roster, and has been able to provide something of a mentorship role on the ice as well, most notably (and recently) with Sam Bennett. He gets a lot of ice time and would probably be a fine player to get to wear an ‘A’ full time.
Like Backlund, Brodie, too, has gotten the chance to wear the ‘A’ for the Flames in limited time before.
He’s also one of the longest-tenured members of the Flames, behind just Giordano and Backlund, and about tied with Lance Bouma. Unlike Bouma, though, and like Backlund and his defence partner, Brodie sees the ice. A lot. He’s one of the most frequently-played Flames, and as a top pairing defenceman, he’s pretty much constantly out there.
Frankly, it’s odd he’s only worn the ‘A’ in just brief periods of time this past season. Him getting it full-time would just make sense.
Gaudreau has never worn a letter for the Flames. I have no idea if it’s something he’d want to do, but fact is, he’s a leader on this team. He led the team in scoring this past season, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, it was probably the first season of many. He’s already the guy to go to on offence, and is one of the team’s MVPs, if not just him outright.
So Gaudreau with a letter just plain might make sense.
It would be kind of odd to have a player have a letter for one year, even if only for half of the games, and then take it away the next, wouldn’t it? If Monahan isn’t back with a letter next season that would be eyebrow raising.
The question is, is he ready to wear a letter full time? He did captain the 67’s in his final year in junior, and at the age of soon-to-be 22, he’ll already be entering his fourth season in the NHL. It would be fitting, if only because he’s probably going to wear a letter for a long, long time.
There is an argument to be had for a couple of other players. Deryk Engelland and Matt Stajan are veteran leaders on the Flames. At the same time, though, they aren’t a part of the core, and will likely be leaving the team sooner rather than later. There are enough core players above them that it probably isn’t necessary.
Newcomer Troy Brouwer is a veteran who is going to be with the Flames for a lot longer. He’s also worn an ‘A’ during his time in Washington, and when leadership is one of the things he was brought in for, it makes sense. But he is a newcomer – and the Flames already have enough candidates with greater longevity that he may not get a letter.
Michael Frolik and Dougie Hamilton could maybe be considered possibilities as well. They’re expected to be with the Flames for a while yet, and if they aren’t core players (though I would consider Hamilton one), they’re the next step below. But again, they’re relative newcomers who haven’t quite established themselves on the Flames in the way some of the above options have – and in that case, it probably makes more sense for their jerseys to stay plain.
Who do you think deserves to wear the alternates’ ‘A’s next season for the Flames? Sound off in the comments!