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Friedman on Mikael Backlund: ‘I think he now wants to stay, and I think the Flames want it to happen’

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
If you constructed a Calgary Flames Mount Rushmore, one of the players that would be in strong consideration for a spot would be centre Mikael Backlund. A fixture with the club for 15 seasons, Backlund is one of the team’s all-time leaders in games and somebody well-regarded on and off the ice.
Backlund’s pending free agency status in 2024 has caused some discussion and anxiety among the fanbase. But on Friday’s edition of the 32 Thoughts podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated that there may have been some developments on that front.
Here’s Friedman:
“So, I think they are talking. And look, I don’t want to make predictions here because negotiations are a grind, Calgary is going to try to get its best deal and Backlund’s going to get his best deal, or try to anyway, and it takes time to get there, but I am under the impression that they are talking and I do believe Backlund has indicated he is willing to stay.
And I do think the other thing here too is, it would not surprise me in the least bit if the Flames are saying you ‘get this done, you’re our C.’ I don’t know that they’re doing that, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit. It makes sense. I think the players believe that Backlund is the true captain of the team and I’m sure the organization is not blind to it.
But he’s come back, remember how he felt at the end of last year? He’s come back, he’s in a much better mood. He’s very important to them on and off the ice? You know that King Clancy trophy he won last year for his community? [Jeff Marek: Yep.]  I think that was a big thing to remind everybody, this has been an excellent marriage. The marriage of Mikael Backlund and the Calgary Flames has been good for the organization, it’s been good for Mikael Backlund, his family and the community of Calgary.
After a summer of deep breath, I think everyone’s reconnected here. I do believe they’re talking. I think there’s a legitimate chance… I don’t think it’s imminent or anything else, and you still have to find a sweet spot that makes sense for both player and team, but I think there’s something here to keep an eye on when it comes to Backlund. I think he now wants to stay, and I think the Flames want it to happen. So now we just need to get from point A to point B.”
Backlund, 34, joined the Flames organization back in 2007 as a first-round selection in the NHL Draft. Since then, he’s played 908 career games with the club – trailing only Jarome Iginla and Mark Giordano – and has been a perennial contender for the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward. He was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy over the summer for his leadership and humanitarian contributions.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

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