Blake Coleman discussed the departures of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk on the Cam and Strick podcast

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
13 days ago
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The Calgary Flames are at an interesting juncture in their franchise’s history. They have not committed to any sort of rebuild, but they do have some fantastic young players in the pipeline who could help put the team back in the postseason sooner rather than later. They will also have a high pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, and they are looking for another young player who can be impactful for years to come.
But it wasn’t long ago that the Flames were the best team in the Pacific Division, led by two elite players, Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. And as every Flames fan enjoyed heading to the Saddledome or sitting in front of their television to watch those two light up the scoresheet with the help of another former Flames player, Elias Lindholm, it was as heartbreaking when Gaudreau left for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Tkachuk was traded to the Florida Panthers in a blockbuster deal.
For Flames forward Blake Coleman, he spoke on the Cam and Strick podcast about the whole saga and said felt the same way that the Sea of Red felt when those two players left, especially since he just signed a new deal.
“It’s tough for me,” Coleman said. “I just signed a six-year deal. I wasn’t expecting guys to jump and abandon ship, especially with how good we were that first year. We had a good team. I knew it was a possibility with the way Johnny hadn’t signed throughout the year. I had heard rumblings of frustration with how things had been. The summer before, he wanted to extend and all these things, so I guess I knew it was a possibility. I think I always hoped that how good of a team we were and that window was going to be wide open for a while would keep them around.”
Having those two influential players leave set the Flames on a downward trajectory to where they are now. The Tkachuk deal at least sent some value back to the Flames, especially in the form of MacKenzie Weegar. Weegar has been consistent in his production, both offensively and defensively. He has also become a leader in the locker room and was a genuine candidate for the captaincy just one year into his Flames tenure. But losing Gaudreau for nothing stings.
Coleman thinks that if Gaudreau had decided to stay, Tkachuk may have been more willing to hang around, but they had to do what was best for them, just as every professional athlete does at some point in their career.
“I think if Johnny stays, I don’t know if [Tkachuk] leaves. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m good buddies with both of those guys. I have a ton of respect and love for those guys. I wish they were still my teammates, but at the end of the day, I also get that you have to do what’s best for you and your family, and that’s what they did.”
Coleman’s path with the Flames is one that he likely didn’t envision after winning two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning and being on a Pacific-leading Calgary team. However, he found his stride under head coach Ryan Huska and is an invaluable piece of the Flames’ leadership. With more young players coming into the fold, he is going to be as important as anyone on the roster to ensure their consistent positive development.
It’s hard to see your friends leave, especially when you commit to sticking around for the long haul (and likely the rest of your career or close to it), but it can also provide you with new opportunities that may not have presented themselves otherwise. Watching two elite players leave is hard and objectively set the team back, but as Coleman said, they did what they believed to be best for themselves, and now it’s about helping develop the new crop.

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