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 last non-player honourable mention is Cliff Fletcher.
A hockey lifer, Fletcher cut his teeth as a scout with Montreal and as St. Louis’ assistant general manager before stepping into the big chair for the expansion Atlanta Flames. Slowly but surely, he laid a foundation that transformed the Flames from a bunch of greenhorns into one of the powerhouse teams of the 1980s.
The Flames made the playoffs every season from 1975-76 to 1990-91. Put differently, in Fletcher’s 19 seasons as GM, they made the playoffs 17 times (and in 16 consecutive seasons). Fletcher made his mark on the team in a lot of different ways:
- Trades! He made moves that brought Joe Mullen, Doug Gilmour and Lanny McDonald (among others) to town.
- Drafting! He drafted Theo Fleury, Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk, Kent Nilsson, Hakan Loob and many others.
- Free agents! He lured Joel Otto and Colin Patterson to sign, plus managed to convince a slew of strong Europeans draftees to leave their gigs at home.
Fletcher was never satisfied, always tinkering. Kent Nilsson had 131 points one season but he was shipped out because Fletcher saw a way to leverage his value to improve the team. Brett Hull was young and promising, and sent to St. Louis to bolster part of the lineup. He developed the nickname “Trader Cliff” for this temperament.
The Flames were nothing when Fletcher took the job as GM. When they moved to Calgary, they were somewhat an underachieving bunch, having never won a playoff round. Under his guidance, they went to the third round, then the Stanley Cup Final, then won a Cup. He didn’t do it alone, but Fletcher set the blueprint and then executed it.
Needless to say, he’s probably the most important off-ice Flame in club history.
Top 40 Calgary Flames: HM Martin Gelinas | HM Al Coates | HM Bob Johnson | HM Darryl Sutter | #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 | #10 Lanny McDonald | #9 Johnny Gaudreau