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.
Our next non-player honourable mention is the top coach in club history: “Badger” Bob Johnson.
The Flames turned a corner in the early 1980s. Upon arriving in town from Atlanta, they went to the third round of the playoffs. The following season, 1981-82, wasn’t nearly as impressive. So general manager Cliff Fletcher scoured the hockey world for a coach that could elevate his club, hiring a hotshot college coach from the University of Wisconsin to kick off the 1982-83 campaign.
To summarize: Johnson really helped elevate the Flames. He brought a modern tactical approach to a talented team, plus supplemented it with an emphasis on work ethic. The Flames couldn’t compete with the Edmonton Oilers’ nuclear option – Wayne Gretzky – so they would have to play smarter to survive.
Johnson coached the Flames for five seasons, departing in 1987 to take over as president of USA Hockey. During those five seasons the Flames made the playoffs five times, advancing past the first round three times and marching all the way to the 1986 Stanley Cup Final.
The Flames didn’t hoist the Cup with Badger Bob behind the bench, but he laid the cultural foundation of smart tactics and hard work that paved the way for their win.
Top 40 Calgary Flames: HM Martin Gelinas | HM Al Coates | #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 | #11 Hakan Loob