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Friedman on Calgary Flames’ Mikael Backlund: ‘I think they’ve offered him the captaincy’
By Ryan Pike8 months ago
After the departure of Mark Giordano to the Seattle Kraken in 2021, the Calgary Flames have gone without a captain. Many fans and onlookers frequently commented “Hey, that’s weird, why not make Mikael Backlund the captain?” And apparently among those with that viewpoint were… several members of the Flames.
Speaking on the 32 Thoughts podcast on Friday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman revealed that he believes the Flames have offered Backlund, a pending 2024 free agent, the captaincy.
“Backlund, I think they’ve offered him the captaincy. I’ve said this before on this pod, the captaincy was very important to him and I think he was bothered they didn’t give it to him last year. And the players, at their end of season meetings, said that one of the reasons this year went off the rails is that there was no specific captain who felt the responsibility to deal with Darryl Sutter. A number of the players, I think, said it should’ve been Backlund. I believe they’ve offered it to Backlund. But I also think that they weren’t close on their contract negotiation.”
Backlund’s been with the Flames forever. He was selected by them in the 2007 NHL Draft and has become a fixture of the team, primarily used as their tough-minutes shutdown centre but also becoming a reliable offensive producer, too. He’s been an alternate captain since 2018 and hit two milestones in 2022-23: he turned 34 in March, and he reached the 900-game threshold. He’s currently third all-time in franchise history in games played.
But Backlund’s age may be making the Flames a bit nervous about signing him for too long. Backlund will be 35 when his next deal begins. Friedman had this thought: “Backlund’s 35 years old, I can see them saying ‘you know, we really want to be careful on term’ and Backlund saying ‘hey wait a second, I’ve been this loyal this long? C’mon.’ And Calgary’s being careful.”
Backlund is entering the final deal of a contract that counts $5.35 million against the cap.
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