This coming May is the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Flames moving to Calgary. To commemorate this occasion, we’re counting down the Top 40 Calgary Flames in history.
While our list is exclusively players, there are a handful of off-ice individuals that merit recognition on this list. We begin with a name that fans might not remember: Al Coates.
Originally part of the Detroit Red Wings organization, Coates was lured away from the Wings when the Flames moved north in 1980. That began a very long stint with the club that saw him work a ton of different gigs:
- 1980-82: director of public relations
- 1982-89: assistant to the president
- 1989-91: director of hockey administration
- 1991-95: assistant (to the) general manager
- 1995-2000: general manager
Following Cliff Fletcher’s departure to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Coates was a big part of a hockey ops group that had to keep the club afloat as the Canadian dollar (and revenues) plunged in the early ’90s. He inherited the GM’s chair from Doug Risebrough and was faced with the grim realities of working as a small market GM.
While Coates’ record wasn’t spotless – his drafting wasn’t great, though it produced Derek Morris, Steve Begin, Toni Lydman, Blair Betts and Oleg Saprykin – he made his mark with some savvy trades as the club tried to leverage expiring assets into futures. His best moves were arguably the Theo Fleury swap to Colorado that netted Robyn Regehr and the Joe Nieuwendyk trade that made Jarome Iginla a Flame.
The Flames weren’t terribly successful under Coates’ watch, making the playoffs precisely once and never winning a round. But he did a strong job of asset management under somewhat trying circumstances, and acquired several pieces that eventually allowed the Flames to turn the corner in the years after he left the organization.
Top 40 Calgary Flames: HM Martin Gelinas | #40 Brad Marsh | #39 Matt Stajan | #38 Jiri Hudler | #37 Dion Phaneuf | #36 Guy Chouinard | #35 Phil Housley | #34 Matthew Tkachuk | #33 Cory Stillman | #32 Curtis Glencross | #31 Jamie Macoun | #30 Carey Wilson | #29 Reggie Lemelin | #28 TJ Brodie | #27 Alex Tanguay | #26 Daymond Langkow | #25 Sergei Makarov | #24 Craig Conroy | #23 Robert Reichel | #22 Paul Reinhart | #21 Doug Gilmour | #20 Mikael Backlund | #19 Jim Peplinski | #18 Joel Otto | #17 Tim Hunter | #16 Joe Mullen | #15 Sean Monahan | #14 Robyn Regehr | #13 Mike Vernon | #12 Kent Nilsson