Would Calgary Flames fans support the team during a rebuild?

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 28: Craig Conroy of the Calgary Flames attends the 2023 NHL Draft at the Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 28: Craig Conroy of the Calgary Flames attends the 2023 NHL Draft at the Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

On the topic of a prospective Calgary Flames rebuild, I’ve been pretty clear on my stance: (1) the culture of the hockey club is broken and a rebuild could fix it and (2) the team might not be that bad if they begin to sell off assets this season (no, I’m not convinced a full tank job is required or plausible). However, the rumoured hold-up for rebuilding this perpetually mediocre hockey team by committing to the future versus floundering in the now is its ownership. One can only assume that ownership’s hesitation comes from the fact that they are operating an entertainment business and that foregoing any revenue now in exchange for success (and likely considerable boosts in profitability) in the future has been deemed unattractive based on profit/loss metrics. Key to an NHL team’s total revenue are streams like ticket sales, merchandise sales, and sponsorships. Of course, all of those streams are dependent on engagement from the market AKA the fans. So, if ownership is preventing a rebuild, are they concerned that fans will fall off the wagon while the team gets younger prior to more competitive?

We recently ran a survey with Calgary Flames fans with some of the questions focused on the concept of a rebuild for the club. While not unanimous, it appears as though the majority of Flames fans are not only supportive of a rebuild, but also of immediate management decisions that would kick one off.

Please keep in mind that some of the individual responses to the survey questions referenced below are a couple of weeks old and may have changed recently, although the general numbers should be fairly accurate.

Highlighting the pessimism clouding the fanbase’s outlook for this current season: 83.7 percent of respondents do not believe the Calgary Flames will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

Calgary Flames Noah Hanifin
Sep 24, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (55) skates during the warmup period against the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

When it comes to pending unrestricted free agent Noah Hanifin, 43 percent of respondents are opposed to extending him now, while 27.9 percent prefer continued patience with the player before making a commitment either way and 17.4 percent would need more information about term/AAV. Only 11.6 percent of fans were supportive of an extension for Noah Hanifin.

Calgary Flames Elias Lindholm
Nov 7, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (28) during the second period against the Nashville Predators at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The same question was posed in relation to the largest pending UFA currently on the Flames’ roster, Elias Lindholm. On this player, even more fans were opposed to an extension with 53.5 percent expressing that the Flames should not extend Lindholm and only 24.4 percent willing to exercise further patience before making a decision. However, more fans are in favour of extending Lindholm than Hanifin, with Lindholm pulling in 15.1 percent of responses in favour of extending him (although I speculate that this is one number that may have dropped based on Lindholm’s output on the ice over the past couple of weeks). Seven percent would require more info about term/AAV when it comes to Lindholm.

Ironically, the majority of fans selected Nikita Zadorov as the one pending UFA player they would like to see extended if the Flames could or had to extend just one (52.3 percent). Zadorov, however has since requested a trade (a topic we’ll have more coverage on soon, but for now you can check out this article on a potential return from the Toronto Maple Leafs).

Lastly, the big kahuna: If the Calgary Flames are not in a position to contend for a playoff spot around the holidays of the 2023-24 season, would you support a “rebuild” of the roster?

In response to this question, a whopping 91.9 percent of fans expressed that they would support a rebuild.

Supporting the sentiment that Flames fans would support a rebuild were written (unedited) responses:

  • Just rebuild already.
  • The Flames are terrible and will be for the next 6 or 7 years. Murray Edward’s doesn’t care about the fans nor does he care about the team’s success. He got his new arena and keeps making money every year. He’s one of, if not the worst, owners in Canadian sports. As long as he makes money every year, he does not care and will never care about those who spend their hard earned money on this team. He has no interest in putting together a winning team and refuses to take any years to properly rebuild. As a Flames fan for the entire 30 years I’ve been on this planet, I am at my witts end with the ownership and I will not be spending any money on them until Murray changes his ways.
  • It’s time to nuke the system, has been for years.
  • If we rebuild now, we should be burgeoning right as the new arena is ready, and right when Makar’s contract is up. Obviously banking on Makar is a stretch, but there’s certainly promise and hope for a better rebuild than people realize. Mould Pelletier into a leader, trade backlund after his 2 year tenure with the C and Weegar can take it over for a couple more while Capt P really finds his feet. Conroy has done a good job not budging on term thus far, I’m confident he can set us up for success. Maybe we even have a cup calibre roster by the time he reaches Brad’s tenure equivalent.
  • The band has been broken up, they have no elite talent left in the lineup scoring wise. Defense is stout but tanev is old and broken, hanifin wants too much. Wolf will be lost if he doesn’t play, have to trade vladar to retain assets. The forwards are completely disconnected from each other there is no chemistry. A rebuild should have happened after the exit of Tkachuk and gaudreau. This team is going nowhere and the main issue is the decisions at the very top.
  • Forever a mediocre franchise who is comfortable being middle of the pack. Until a proper rebuild is done and this clown show of an ownership allows it, this team will never give themselves a chance to win anything.
  • The Flames should rebuild over the next 3 years before the new arena is built in 2026. And somehow find a way to trade Huberdeau and Kadri during this time.
  • If I am going to watch them lose games, I would prefer to see more young talent. That way at least they would be building experience for the future.
  • The flames have a bright future with some asset management. Pelletier coronato wolf zary klapka Ect. We have the makings of a solid young team to add to our high paid vets. Blow it all up and rebuild already. Quit spending so much to “just get in and see what happens”. 04 was a long time ago.
  • Mediocre . Always medicore. Do something different for once
  • Born & raised Calgary. Will always support the squad. However, the team needs a direction/plan. Clinging on to the idea from management that getting a wild card spot and making noise in the playoffs is not a plan. The current iteration of the roster has potential to compete, but it is clear after last season and this start that it is unlikely. This version of the flames is also boring- attendance is going to continue to be a problem if they continue this path. Even if tickets are cheap for the bleeders, why would I spend the money to watch this product? Huberdeau and Kadri not coming as advertised is not the end of the world. The flames just need to actually have a youth movement(Oesterle, Gilbert, Hunt down, Zary, soloyov, porier etc up). Dallas Stars 2.0. Calgarians will cheer for a team with a direction even if they are not as competitive in the short term imo. You would think management would be able to look at long term when they’ve agreed to a new building and a 35 year commitment to Calgary.
  • I’ve been a Flames fan for many decades. I agree that a rebuild is in order. Finishing in the middle of the pack year after year just doesn’t cut it. You have to get worse before you get better. Drafting top 5 picks for a few years and giving them time to develop is the way to go. We desire to watch fast exciting hockey. Players who play with urgency and desperation in their game. You win by desiring to win more than your opponent. Talent is important of course but desire to win is essential.
  • As much as I don’t want to see a rebuild, we might have to. I love watching the flames trying to make the playoffs, and do believe that once you are in you can maybe win. With what I have seen from the top paid players and goaltending, is that even with depth player moves that they won’t be competitive still. While I do really hope that the season is early and they will play better during the season and compete for a playoff spot.
  • Future is bleak…..rebuild
  • I will always support them but it’s time to work with a plan and a goal and not just be in the league
  • We need to rebuild and trade everyone 26 or older
  • Until the flames embrace a full rebuild this organization will be stuck in perpetual mediocrity.
  • Always being just good enough to not pick inside the top 10 but just bad enough to miss the playoffs
  • It’s a dumpster fire. Overpaid, long term, underperforming contracts of Huberdeau, Kadri are killing this team. Rookie coach and GM who don’t seem to know how to fix this mess. Time to clean house and trade for draft picks and rebuild.

There you have it. Fans want a rebuild far more than we desire to flop around in the middle of the standings table for another decade.

The C of Red dies hard and we’ll be here to support the Calgary Flames, but Murray, the longer you drag this out, the more you run the risk of losing one fan at a time. The folks who pay you their hard-earned dollars will not spend more on the club in the long run unless you commit to putting a product on the ice that the best fanbase in the NHL deserves.

Next. The culture of the Calgary Flames is broken – it’s time to rebuild. dark