Folks, having a good National Hockey League team is really tough. Presently, only half of the NHL’s 32 clubs make the playoffs. The same thing is true in the American Hockey League most years, though this season they have a wacky modified playoff format so more teams qualify. But suffice it to say, it’s a rarity when an organization’s NHL parent and AHL affiliate are both good. This season, the Calgary Flames and their AHL club, the Stockton Heat, have qualified for the playoffs.
On Friday night, they can make some organizational history if both teams manage to advance in their post-season series.
Since the Flames moved to Calgary (and the minor league affiliate system stabilized) in the 1980s, the Flames and their farm team have both qualified for the playoffs just a dozen times. (This season is the 12th such occurrence.) In the salary cap era, the Flames and their farm team have both qualified for the playoffs just three times: 2006-07 (Omaha), 2016-17 (Stockton) and this season. That’s it.
However, both teams making the playoffs and advancing at least a round has only happened three times, period.
1985-86: Moncton Golden Flames (AHL)
Coached by future Stanley Cup winner Terry Crisp, the Golden Flames were a split affiliate between Calgary and Boston. Their leading scorers were Flames prospect Brian Bradley and Bruins prospect Greg Johnston, and their goaltending tandem was awesomely-named Bruins farmhand Cleon Daskalakis and Flames prospect Marc D’Amour. The 1986 Golden Flames won a round in the post-season but were dispatched in the second round. Up in the NHL, the Flames beat the Edmonton Oilers (off Steve Smith’s own goal) and made it all the way to the Cup Final before losing to Montreal.
1987-88: Salt Lake Golden Eagles (IHL)
A couple seasons later, the Flames’ farm team went on a long run, winning the International Hockey League’s Turner Cup while the NHL team played two rounds. The 1988 Golden Eagles boasted Theo Fleury on their roster, but their primary scoring weapons were former college stars Peter Lappin and Jim Johannson, along with former OHLer Rick Barkovich. A couple years removed from a brief NHL stint that seemed to close the door on his hopes of being an NHL Flame, D’Amour had since settled into his role as a very good minor league goalie and he carried Salt Lake to victory. (His backup was sixth-rounder Grant Blair, who retired following the season.)
1988-89: Salt Lake Golden Eagles (IHL)
The following season, the NHL Flames won the Stanley Cup while the Golden Eagles lost in the Turner Cup Final. Up front, Lappin, Jim Leavins and future NHLer Marc Bureau and occasional NHL call-up Rich Chernomaz ran the offense. In net, D’Amour had left for the Flyers as a free agent, but he was replaced by a tandem of Steve Guenette and Wayne Cowley.
How far do you think the Flames and Heat could go this post-season? Let us know in the comments!
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