Mikael Backlund’s extension with the Calgary Flames sets great tone for the regular season

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
6 months ago
After a long and arduous process, Mikael Backlund has officially been extended by the Calgary Flames. And not only has he been awarded an extension, but he has also been named the 21st captain in team history.
Backlund was the front-runner to wear the captain’s patch for a while after Mark Giordano left, considering he has dedicated his entire 15-year career to the Flames (and has been a very steady and effective player while doing so). However, there was a point in time when it felt like Backlund wouldn’t come back, which the Flames could have overcome, but it would have been a bit odd to see the 34-year-old in a different jersey.
The good news is, we won’t have to worry about that for another two years, as that’s the term for his extension at a more-than-reasonable $4.5 million AAV, which made plenty of fans happy reading after it was announced on Twitter (or X, or whatever).
All of this to say, it’s incredible the kind of turnaround we’ve seen in the feeling around the team heading into this season. There were changes to the coaching staff, the system in which the players operate, and in management, but being able to keep someone as important to the organization as Backlund is a huge deal for both the players and the fans.
Last season, it was destitute. The season felt longer than 82 games with the amount of drama and problems that were had on the ice and off the ice. Even the off-season felt bleak, with plenty of reports flooding in that multiple players on the team wanted to be traded before their contracts expired at the end of the season. Of course, there might still be some players who want that to happen, and the Flames sent Tyler Toffoli to the New Jersey Devils because he didn’t want to stick around, but overall, Craig Conroy and his team have done a good job negotiating and managing the problems that arose during the summer.
It’s rejuvenating to see players like Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri smiling again. It’s rejuvenating to see Jakob Pelletier (although he’s hurt) crack jokes in the media. It’s rejuvenating to feel like young players actually have a chance at being impactful players at the top of the lineup. I could go on. But nonetheless, this Backlund extension sets a very good tone for the 2023-24 season. It’s the perfect way to get the ball rolling and give the players a boost to morale. Now, it’s time for the team to go play some fun hockey and win some games with their new captain leading the charge.

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