Hockey season is coming and it is time to come to terms with the fact that Mark Giordano will not be joining the Calgary Flames on their side of the ice this season. We all saw him put on the Seattle Kraken jersey back in July, but it is going to start feeling pretty real, pretty fast. With his exposure and pick-up in the expansion draft, a vacancy in the captain role on this team needs to be filled. Or does it?
The FlamesNation writers pondered what the Flames might do this season after losing their long-time captain. With a couple of pandemic seasons and their fair share of adversity, some players that may have been strong candidates a year ago, may not be best suited for the job in the 2021-22 season. Without knowing for sure, here is what we think might happen on the player leadership side of things once the season gets started.
Paige – no captain
The best leaders typically emerge on their own and are not appointed. After last season, I am not seeing a lot of emerging. I would have really like to see Matthew Tkachuk take over the leadership on this team. However, after all the drama and after-effects of the Toronto puck flipping incident, there appear to be some interpersonal sore spots on the team that involve number 19. I don’t think this will be permanent so hopefully, he can use this season as a comeback season and put himself back in the conversation for captaincy.
Overall, it doesn’t feel right to have a placeholder captain this year. There are long-time alternate captains such as Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund that can continue in those roles and can combine their efforts based on what they have learned from Gio. Maybe this season we will see glimmers of leadership attributes in unsuspecting young players such as Rasmus Andersson and Andrew Mangiapane who, could very well wear letters on their jerseys in the future.
Shane – Mikael Backlund
The Flames have been in Calgary since 1980-81 and in that time they’ve only ever gone without a captain once – 1990-91, after their cup-winning leaders retired after the 1989 Stanley Cup
Calgary’s at an odd spot right now – Lucic and Tanev are leaders, but they’re still relatively new to the club and don’t have as long term outlook as you’d like naming a captain. Usually an “A” gets the promotion – which leaves it to Monahan, Tkachuk, Backlund, or Tanev/Lucic
My best bet – Mikael Backlund. He’s consistent, he shows up and works hard every day, and he’s the exact type of professional player you’d want young guys to model after. He’s active in the community and embraces Calgary as a second home. It would not shock me to see Backlund with a C on his sweater.
Mike W – Matthew Tkachuk
I would love to see the Flames go all in on their star and name Matthew Tkachuk captain. This would, at the very least, forthrightly move the club a new direction. He has lead this team into the battle for years. It’s a responsibility he would likely relish and thrive upon. However, Mikael Backlund seems an appropriate and likely choice. The longest serving Flame is a link between Darryl Sutter, Mark Giordano, and a highly respected community leader. He’s a worthy successor.
PJ – no captain
Personally, I do not think the Flames name a captain this year. The team is in a weird situation in which some of its leadership group may not be around for much longer (e.g. Milan Lucic and Sean Monahan) and others are not entirely ready to shoulder the burden of a captain at this time (e.g. Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane). With that being said, my hope is that Daryl Sutter and Co. name Mikael Backlund as captain, given the players steadying presence, on and off the ice, and a plethora of leadership experience. Gut feeling, however, tells me that the Flames do not appoint a captain for the 2021-22 season, opting for three to four alternate captains instead.
Mike G – Mikael Backlund
The longer I think on it, the more I suspect Mikael Backlund will be named the Flames’ best captain. He’s now the team’s longest-tenured player and has been a massively positive on-ice influence, particularly for younger players, over the last decade. Backlund has been around the block time and again with the Flames and it doesn’t look like he’ll be going anywhere in the foreseeable future. He captained Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Championship. Off the ice, he and Frida have been fixtures in the Calgary community. There aren’t many better ambassadors for the organization than No. 11 and his captaincy could be a perfect precursor to Matthew Tkachuk, his long-time linemate, eventually adopting the mantle.
Ryan – depends if Giordano comes back
For me, what to do with the captaincy depends on if they think Mark Giordano is coming back. It’d be awkward to have a placeholder captain for a season and then to have Giordano come back and reclaim the C. If they don’t think Giordano is coming back, rolling with someone like Mikael Backlund or Chris Tanev would be a ton of sense: they play a ton in virtually every situation, and their off-ice impacts are huge, too.
Craig – Mikael Backlund
While the wound wrenched by the loss of Giordano may not have scabbed over enough to name a new captain this season, Mikael Backlund would make a worthy substitute for the Flames. The last true veteran of the organization, the Swede is a fixture in the dressing room and, as one of the most underrated top-six centres of the last decade, has long been Calgary’s best-kept secret. Perhaps it’s time to launch him into the limelight.
Even our FlamesNation crew is not 100% sure what the decision will be for the Flames captain this year but all make compelling arguments for current Flames that could find success in that role. Do you agree with our writers? Or who do you think the Flames will name as the 2021-22 captain. Let us know in the comments.
If there is set to be a new Flames captain after all, at least we won’t have to wait long to find out. Preseason games already start up late next week and their first regular season game is on Oct. 16 for the first Battle of Alberta of the year. By then, we should have a pretty clear idea of who is set to be captain of this team or who is being conditioned to do so.