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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The past comings and goings of Flames captains

The Calgary Flames could soon be without a captain. Conventional wisdom and industry scuttlebutt is that the Seattle Kraken will select Mark Giordano in the expansion draft, and so the Flames could need a new captain.

Here’s a brief history of the comings and goings of the captains of the Flames franchise.

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Captains, at a glance

Captain Tenure Captaincy ended due to…
Keith McCreary 1972-75 Retirement
Pat Quinn 1975-77 Retirement
Tom Lysiak 1977-79 Trade
Jean Pronovost 1979-80 Trade
Brad Marsh 1980-81 Trade
Phil Russell 1981-83 Trade
Doug Risebrough 1983-87 Retirement
Lanny McDonald 1983-89 Retirement
Jim Peplinski 1984-89 Retirement
Tim Hunter 1988-89 Stepped down
Brad McCrimmon 1989-90 Trade
Joe Nieuwendyk 1990-95 Held out
Theoren Fleury 1995-97 Stepped down
Todd Simpson 1997-99 Trade
Steve Smith 1999-00 Retirement
Dave Lowry 2000-02 Stripped
Bob Boughner 2002 Stepped down
Craig Conroy 2002-03 Stepped down
Jarome Iginla 2003-13 Trade
Mark Giordano 2013-now N/A

The rundown

Original Atlanta Flames captain Keith McCreary retired following the 1974-75 season, his third as captain. His successor, future Hall of Fame builder Pat Quinn, similarly retired following the 1976-77 season due to an injury.

This was followed by a five year span where general manager Cliff Fletcher traded away four consecutive captains spanning both sides of the team’s relocation to Calgary:

  • In 1979, Tom Lysiak was traded to Chicago in an eight-player deal – at the time the biggest trade in Flames history – that saw Lysiak, Greg Fox, Harold Phillipoff, Pat Ribble and Miles Zaharko sent to the Second City in exchange for Ivan Boldirev, Darcy Rota and Phil Russell.
  • In 1980, Jean Pronovost was traded to Washington for cash considerations.
  • In 1981, Brad Marsh was traded to Philadelphia for Mel Bridgman.
  • In 1983, Russell (acquired in the Lysiak swap) was traded to New Jersey with Bridgman for Joel Quenneville and Steve Tambellini.

The Flames entered the co-captaincy era after Russell’s departure. Doug Risebrough, Lanny McDonald and Jim Peplinski were the primary trio, with Tim Hunter replacing Risebrough after his retirement to become a coach. McDonald and Peplinski both retired after the Stanley Cup win and the Flames opted for a more traditional set-up, with Brad McCrimmon becoming captain in 1989-90.

Following the 1989-90 season, though, McCrimmon was traded to Detroit for a second round pick. His successor, Joe Nieuwendyk, stopped being captain due to a contractual holdout and was traded to Dallas for Corey Millen and obscure junior prospect Jarome Iginla (who eventually became an NHL player of note). Theoren Fleury took over as captain, but resigned after two seasons as he felt his responsibilities as captain were getting in the way of his game. He was succeeded by Todd Simpson, who was the prototypical Young Guns player: raw, promising, and traded after two seasons as captain for Bill Lindsay.

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Steve Smith served a captain for a season and change, retiring due to injury in December 2000. He was succeeded by Dave Lowry, who served for just over a year before being stripped of the captaincy. Bob Boughner and Craig Conroy served as co-captains for around three months, with Conroy becoming sole captain at the beginning of the 2002-03 season. He served in that capacity for a year before handing the reigns off to Iginla, who served for 10 years before being traded to Pittsburgh in March 2013.

Giordano was named captain prior to the 2013-14 season. Only Iginla has served more seasons in that capacity.