Revisiting Sean Monahan’s greatest moments with the Calgary Flames
Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould9 months ago
Sean Monahan will take to the ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome as a visiting player for the first time in his National Hockey League career when his Montreal Canadiens face off against the Calgary Flames on Thursday evening.
The Flames traded Monahan and a first-round pick to the Canadiens in a cash-clearing move over the summer. The 28-year-old centre spent the first nine seasons of his NHL career in Calgary and is off to a strong start in Montreal with 14 points in 22 games.
Monahan is the second of three former Flames stars making their first returns to the Saddledome this season. The Calgary faithful greeted Matthew Tkachuk with an assortment of boos and cheers on Tuesday as his Florida Panthers fell by a 6–2 score; Johnny Gaudreau is scheduled to play his first game back in Calgary with the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 23.
There almost certainly won’t be any boos when Monahan steps out in front of the Saddledome crowd tonight. He was a special player and presence in this city for the better part of a decade. If not for the financial complications of fitting Nazem Kadri under the salary cap, Monahan would likely still be here.
Monahan deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest Flames in team history. Here’s a look back at five of his top moments while donning the Flaming C.
Only a few months after Jarome Iginla’s departure, the Flames entered the 2013 NHL Draft with the No. 6 selection and the strong desire to add a centre (particularly in the wake of the failed Ryan O’Reilly offer sheet).
Their prize: Sean Monahan. Taken one spot after Elias Lindholm went to Carolina, Monahan immediately made the jump to the NHL with the Flames in 2013–14 and finished second to Mike Cammalleri with 22 goals in 75 games.
Monahan picked up an assist on a David Jones goal in his first NHL game and scored one of his own against the Columbus Blue Jackets the following night.
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After years of watching veteran-laden Flames teams underperform in the standings, Monahan represented the beginning of an exciting new era in Calgary. He was the best rookie Flames fans had seen in many, many years.
No, the 2013–14 Flames weren’t all that good, but they were fun — especially when a certain No. 53 hopped on the train in time for the season finale.
Game 6 heroics
Johnny Gaudreau officially arrived on the scene in Calgary in the 2014–15 season, finishing third in Calder Trophy voting after scoring 64 points in 80 games. He also served as Monahan’s running mate for much of the season, starting a partnership that would last for a long time.
Gaudreau, Monahan, and Jiri Hudler regularly feasted on opposing teams that year as Calgary PDO’d its way into a surprise post-season berth. Monahan became the first Flames centre to score 30 goals since Daymond Langkow and came through when it mattered most in the playoffs.
The Flames took on the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Leading the series 3–2 heading into Game 6, the Flames fell into a 3–0 hole in the first period at the Saddleome but fought back to tie the game twice before pulling away late in the third.
Monahan recorded a goal and two assists in Game 6 as the Flames defeated the Canucks by a 7–4 score. Although the Flames ultimately fell to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round, Monahan played a huge role in giving Calgary fans their greatest playoff moment in more than a decade.
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No. 100 in Tampa
Sean Monahan scored a lot of goals from the slot. He had a knack for finding open space in dangerous areas, picking up loose pucks, and firing lethal wristers past opposing goaltenders.
All of this made his 100th career goal so unusual. Monahan sat on the precipice of the milestone for six games before finally reaching it in Tampa Bay with his 20th goal of the 2016–17 season, deflecting a long-range backhand shot by Gaudreau past Andrei Vasilevskiy to give the Flames a 2–1 lead.
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Monahan became the youngest Flame ever to score his 100th goal with the team. Among active NHL players at the time, Monahan was the sixth-youngest to reach the milestone (behind only Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr, Alex Ovechkin, and Patrick Kane).
The Flames ended up winning that late February game against the Lightning by a 3–2 score. Calgary returned to the playoffs in 2017 after missing the previous year; Tampa surprisingly missed out on qualifying by one point.
Automatic vs. Anaheim
Looking back, it’s hard to believe the Flames couldn’t squeeze out even one win against the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Flames were the stronger team in almost every facet during that series. They dominated possession; Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton were all healthy; and, best of all, their No. 1 centre was at the top of his game.
Monahan scored in all four games as the Flames fell to the Ducks in a sweep. He had a goal and an assist in Game 3 as the Flames shot out to a 4–1 lead before falling 5–4 in overtime.
Unfortunately, the Flames couldn’t get a save in the series. Brian Elliott played himself out of Calgary with an .880 save percentage against the Ducks — including a dismal .815 in the Game 3 collapse — before being relieved by backup Chad Johnson early in Game 4.
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Monahan dealt with significant injury problems as his tenure in Calgary drew to a close. He suffered serious damage to his wrists, ribs, groin, and more in his final seasons with the Flames, ultimately being ruled out for the rest of the 2021–22 season in April to undergo right hip surgery.
Even after he played his final game with the Flames, Monahan remained around the team and was present at the Scotiabank Saddledome for Game 7 against the Dallas Stars in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Gaudreau scored the series-winning goal in overtime to send the Flames forward to face the Edmonton Oilers in round two. After saluting the Calgary fans one last time before the Battle of Alberta, Gaudreau stopped to embrace his longtime linemate in the tunnel leading to the home dressing room.
Welcome back, Sean. You’ll always be at home in Calgary.
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