Flames captaincy updates and candidate rankings

Mar 25, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund (11) during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 25, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund (11) during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Conversation surrounding the pending Calgary Flames captaincy announcement continues.

Flames fans and media are justifiably chomping at the bit for official word from the organization on who will don the “C”. The Flames have been without a captain since Mark Giordano’s last game with the club at the end of the 2020/21 season and formalized leadership is something that players, fans, and media have recognized as a necessary void to fill for some time now.

Let’s get into it. Here’s how dialogue on the next Calgary Flames captain has progressed.

The Calgary Flames’ captain dilemma timeline

"In our situation it’s not easy because I think we have a bunch of leaders, and people bring different things to the table.I’m not in the room every day, so I don’t really know what’s being said in between periods, pre and post. So, the coaching staff and the players need to give us some input.In a Canadian market you need a captain and you need it to be the right person.That’s why we’re not going to rush it, we’re gonna go to camp and (coach Ryan) Huska is going to bond with that player."

Ranking Flames captain candidates

Huska and Conroy have options. The fans and media have their opinions. And maybe most importantly, the players inside the locker room have their own thoughts on the decision informed by insight available to a grand total none of us on the outside.

The four top candidates for the role are, in order of mention in this article above, MacKenzie Weegar, Rasmus Andersson, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Mikael Backlund. Every one of them would make a good captain, but to toss a little gas on the embers, I’ve ranked them from four to one on likelihood of being named the 20th captain in Calgary Flames history below.

4. MacKenzie Weegar

Top captain attributes: Will to win, vocal leadership, term

Flames captain candidate MacKenzie Weegar
Nov 1, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman MacKenzie Weegar (52) against the Seattle Kraken during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The fan favourite for the captaincy role a couple of weeks ago, MacKenzie Weegar is a relatable down-to-earth hard-working defenceman who wants to win hockey games in Calgary. While his will to win with the Flames might be the most important here, we’ve seen him emerge as a vocal leader as well. From The Win Column’s John MacKinnon on Weegar’s vocal leadership:

"He was the first player to come out and state that the team needed a coaching change, he took time during his exit interview to vouch for a new arena, and has been one of the first Flames players to openly discuss his pleasure in Conroy’s hiring."

3. Jonathan Huberdeau

Top captain attributes: Commitment, accountability, mentorship

Flames captaincy candidate Jonathan Huberdeau wearing the "Blasty" Reverse Retro uniform
Feb 28, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Jonathan Huberdeau (10) against the Boston Bruins during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

His commitment, contract term, mentorship, potential (necessity) to be the best player, fan/media relations, and accountability, Huberdeau would make a fantastic long-term captain. The knocks against him are of course the priority to bounce back from a disappointing inaugural season in Calgary and that we don’t know how he’s viewed by his teammates in the room.

More on why Jonathan Huberdeau should be named the captain

2. Mikael Backlund

Top captain attributes: Support of the locker room, on-ice play, community leadership

Flames captaincy candidate Mikael Backlund beside the King Clancy Trophy
Jun 26, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund poses with the King Clancy Memorial Trophy after winning it during the 2023 NHL Awards at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The King Clancy Trophy is a league-wide award that goes to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities off and on the ice. The most recent King Clancy winner: Calgary’s Mikael Backlund. Not only is he recognized as the best leader in the NHL, his teammates see him as their captain and there might not be a better argument for anyone to wear a second “C” on their jersey than that. The only reason Backlund isn’t the captain already is because his contract is set to expire. The question is simple to ask but difficult to answer: if Mikael Backlund is not extended beyond the 2023/24 season, does it make sense to name him the captain anyway?

Backlund was also recently recognized as the team’s most valuable player in 2022/23, receiving the Harley H. Hotchkiss Award earlier this week.

Check out my recent “Roundup” article for an update on Backlund’s future as a Calgary Flame

1. Rasmus Andersson

Top captain attributes: Accountability, consistency, pride

Flames captaincy candidate Rasmus Andersson yelling
Apr 10, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson (4) reacts to a call by referee during the third period against the Nashville Predators at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

He razzles, he dazzles, he’s the fan favourite for the captain’s role, and he wants it. Andersson has been a part of the organization since he was drafted, played in the AHL under Huska, and is almost always the first player to take accountability. He’s proud to wearing the Flaming C and call Calgary home. Rasmus is great with the media, well spoken, has term left on his deal, and shows up to compete every single night.

Earlier this week, Andersson was recognized as the Flames’ best defenceman from last season, winning the Clayton H. Riddell Award.

With the Flames prospects taking part in the Young Stars Classic, maybe the dialogue will dissipate ever so slightly this weekend while Flames fans watch actual hockey. On the other hand, the Calgary Flames captaincy conversation will likely only continue to snowball (and I’m here for it).

Related Story. Predicting the Calgary Flames leadership group under Captain Andersson. light