It’s also not something that Calgary Flames fans have felt much of over the years, which makes the chatter about the city not a place that can attract or retain fans a bit odd. star talent.
Johnny Gaudreau fled Calgary for the greener pastures of Columbus, Ohio last week, then Matthew Tkachuk informed the Flames he wouldn’t re-sign long-term.
A double hit. One punch twice. A week not good, ugly, very bad.
But the decisions of two star players don’t define a franchise and they certainly don’t define a city. Maybe they set the Flames back in their quest for discord, but two American players deciding they want to play in their home country shouldn’t be seen as an indictment of the city or the club. organization of the Flames.
The last two years prove that the Flames are quite capable of attracting top talent.
Just two summers ago, the team identified a need between the pipes and was able to nab one of the biggest fish in free agency of 2020 when it landed Jacob Markstrom to a six-year contract.
That’s proof enough. One of the NHL’s best goaltenders looked at Calgary and said, “Yes, this is a place where I can see myself settling down and being happy for the next half dozen years.”
Last summer, the Flames wanted to add high-end, proven talent on offense. No problem, general manager Brad Treliving was able to beat other contenders and land two-time Stanley Cup champion Blake Coleman in free agency.
Despite all the talk about Gaudreau and Tkachuk, both Americans, not being interested in playing in Canada, it should be noted that Coleman is from Texas and played the previous two seasons in Tampa. If anyone was going to be scared of Alberta’s long, cold winters, it was him. Instead, he committed to Calgary and the Flames for six years.
The list continues. They had Chris Tanev in 2020. Two years earlier it was James Neal – who obviously didn’t work out, but seemed like a good addition at the time.
The point here, ultimately, is that recent history suggests that Calgary is actually a perfectly attractive destination for professional hockey players.
Tkachuk and Gaudreau not wanting to play in Calgary is an aberration, not the latest in a worrying trend of players demanding trades or looking for the exit sign as soon as they walk through the doors of the Scotiabank Saddledome.
In the short term, does it do the Flames much good?
No, they lost the league’s second-leading scorer when Gaudreau signed with the Blue Jackets and are poised to ship another 100-point scorer out of town every time they trade Tkachuk, who is currently a restricted free agent and could technically still be there next season.
Tkachuk and Gaudreau are players the Flames have taken years to develop. They’re building their current roster around them and have clearly made re-signing them a top priority this offseason. It’s not a secret. Treliving has said it many times, and failure to do so likely sets the Flames back a few big steps in their quest to win the Stanley Cup.
There is no point minimizing disappointment. It’s real, and it probably hurts a lot to be a Flames fan right now.
But despite the temptation to make Gaudreau and Tkachuk’s departures something bigger, it’s not necessarily fair or productive.
Two individual players made individual decisions based on what they thought was best for them and their families. This is not Calgary.
We haven’t heard of Tkachuk, but Gaudreau made it very clear.
He laid out his reasons for leaving the Flames in a players’ stand letter to fans on Wednesday, speaking candidly about wanting to be closer to his family, especially in light of a heart attack his father suffered a few years ago.
“This city is awesome,” Gaudreau wrote before repeatedly emphasizing the love he felt for Calgary.
At some point, you have to take a guy at his word. Gaudreau made a decision based on what was best for him.
There is no evidence that Gaudreau’s departure and Tkachuk’s impending departure were motivated by any opinion of Calgary, whether negative or positive.
It was about them, not us.