The Littlest Christmas Tree: Pound for Pound Who is the Best Calgary Flame of All Time
The Calgary Flames have always been known for their physical "in your face" brand of hockey. It has been a style that has brought them success of late, despite not having the most talented team.
Even in their days while based in Atlanta, the Flames have been large and aggressive. In fact, Chicago Blackhawks great Stan Mikita once said after playing against them, "It was like skating in a forest of giant redwoods."
While the franchise is known for being all of these things, they have always seemed to find a talented small player or two that has brought a different dimension to the club—some small trees amongst the giant redwoods. This season it has been Nigel Dawes, and last year it was Michael Cammalleri.
While Calgary has been in a bit of a slump going into the Christmas break, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the Calgary Flames versions of the famous children's story "the Littlest Christmas Tree" , and count down just who was the best pound for pound.
10. Michael Cammalleri 5-9, 185 lbs. (Calgary Flames 2008-09)
If Mike Cammalleri didn't head for greener pastures and sign with the Montreal Canadiens in the offseason, he may have been amongst the top five, but instead Flames' fans only got to enjoy his explosive speed and quick release for one measly season.
Though what a season that was.
Cammalleri finished first on the team in goals with 39, and second in points with 82. It was enough for the Habs to offer him $30 million over five seasons, and enough to put him on our list of top 10.
9. Marc Savard 5-10, 191 lbs. (Calgary Flames 1999-2002)
The story keeps writing itself when it comes to Marc Savard, and the Flames keep kicking themselves for letting him go.
While "Savy" didn't overwhelm the fans in Calgary with his point production, he did put up some pretty decent numbers, though not like the 90 plus points player he has become today. In 221 games played, Savard recorded 60 goals and 94 assists, which was good for 154 points.
All this while the Calgary Flames have been trying to find a center to play with Jarome Iginla, and they let one of best get away for Ruslan Zainullin...Ouch!
8. Valeri Bure 5-10, 181 lbs. (Calgary Flames 1998-2001)
Though the younger Bure didn't have the success of his older brother Pavel, he did put up some pretty good numbers while playing in Cowtown; in fact, he led the team in scoring during the 1999-2000 season with 35 goals and 40 assists in 82 games.
In total, Valeri Bure tallied 93 goals and 99 assists in a little over three seasons with the Flames.
In the 2001 offseason, he was traded to the Florida Panthers where injuries plagued his production. Bure only played 150 games over the course of the next four seasons (with the Panthers, St. Louis Blues, and Dallas Stars), scoring just 35 goals and 63 assists. Though 22 of those goals and 30 of those assists came in his final year in the league in 2003-04.
7. Sergei Makarov 5-8, 185 lbs. (Calgary Flames 1989-1993)
Sergei Makarov may best be known in Calgary for winning the Calder as rookie of the year at the age of 31 (as a result, the league changed the rules and now only players under 26 qualify for the award).
If he had of been allowed by the Soviet Union to join the Flames earlier in his career, he may have been one of the greatest Flames of all time, let alone pound for pound.
Makarov was a point-a-game guy in his three seasons with Calgary, scoring 94 goals, 198 assists, and 292 points over 297 games.
6. Daymond Langkow 5-10, 183 lbs. (Calgary Flames 2005-present)
While the Flames have botched a few trades over the years, they got one right when they aquired Daymond Langkow from the Phoenix Coyotes for Denis Gauthier and Oleg Saprykin.
There isn't much not to like about the 5-10 center's game. He plays a gritty in your face style, and he is dependable and productive at both ends of the ice.
So far over his career as a Flame he has 119 goals and 153 assists, which is good for 272 points and counting.
If he retires in Calgary, I'm sure he will move up the list of the greatest pound for pound players in franchise history, but for now he sits comfortably at No. 6 on my list.
5. Hakan Loob 5-9, 176 lbs. (Calgary Flames 1983-1989)
Before Jarome Iginla was scoring in bunches while wearing No. 12 for the Flames, there was Hakan Loob.
Maybe one of the most underrated NHLers of all time, Loob scored 193 goals and added 236 assists in 450 games played in Calgary. If he didn't retire from the NHL early, he probably would have scored twice as many points as he finished his career playing with Farjestads in the Swedish Elite League racking up another 501 points.
He is one of very few players to have won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, and a World Championship title.
4. Mike Vernon 5-9, 167 lbs. (Calgary Flames 1982-1994, 2000-2001)
For fans of the Calgary Flames, the image of Mike Vernon stymying Stan Smyl in overtime during Game Seven of the 1989 Smythe Division semifinals is burned permanently in their brains.
The Flames netminder played absolutely brilliant in leading Calgary to their first and only Stanley Cup, going 16-5 with three shutouts and a 2.26 goals against average, which is great for today's standards let alone the offensive 80's.
In all, Vernon finished his career with the Flames winning 262 games, and he is 10th all time in NHL goalie wins with 385.
3. Joe Mullen 5-10, 182 lbs. (Calgary Flames 1985-1990)
In the late 80's, there were few natural goal scorers better than the Flames' Joey Mullen. What he lacked in skating ability he more than made up for with his uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time.
In his four and a half seasons spent in Calgary, Mullen compiled 190 goals and 198 assists. During the Flames 1989 Stanley Cup run, Mullen paired with Doug Gilmour to form the team's most dangerous duo and scored 16 goals in 21 games.
He is the only player to ever score 20 goals in the minors and the NHL in the same season and ranks fourth on the all-time points leaders amongst American born players with 1,063.
Not too bad for a kid from the mean streets of New York's Hell's Kitchen.
2. Doug Gilmour 5-10, 175 lbs. (Calgary Flames 1988-1991)
Nicknamed "Killer" by Brian Sutter when he played in St. Louis because Sutter thought he resembled Charles Manson, Doug Gilmour was one of the greatest players to ever play the game, and if he hadn't been dealt for Gary Leeman, he most likely would have been No. 1 on this list of top Flames pound for pound.
Theoren Fleury called him the greatest center he ever played with.
The women adored him and the men wanted to be him, yes, Doug Gilmour was everything and more to the Flames when they aquired him in 1988. He was the last piece of the puzzle for a Calgary team that was looking to take the next step.
In all, Gilmour only played 266 games for the Flames, but put up 295 points. He sits 17th all time on the NHL scoring leaders with 1,414 points overall.
Toronto is still sending thank you cards to this day to the Calgary Flames for letting him go to the Leafs for nothing.
1. Theoren Fleury 5-6, 172 lbs. (Calgary Flames 1988-1999)
Really was there ever any doubt?
All Theo Fleury did was become one of the greatest players pound for pound in the NHL despite battling adversity along the way.
He was a long shot to even make the league as the Flames took a gamble on selecting him in the eighth round, 166th overall, in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. But boy did that gamble pay off, as Fleury scored 364 goals, 466 assists, and 830 points in 791 games over 11 seasons for Calgary, which puts him second all time for the Flames franchise lead behind Jarome Iginla.
If his career wasn't cut short, there is no doubt that he would have scored 500 goals and 1,000 points, heck after being out of the league since 2003 he was still good enough to finish third on the team in points this year in preseason.
The more you find out about this guy, the more you respect him, and that's why he is No. 1 on my list of top all-time Calgary Flames pound for pound.