On Monday night (Jan. 23), the Calgary Flames will host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Johnny Gaudreau’s return to Stampede City. In the recent offseason, the Flames’ fifth all-time leading scorer opted to sign with the Blue Jackets as a free agent. Signed a seven-year contract The price is $68 million.
While these two teams have already met once, with the Blue Jackets winning in Columbus on Dec. 9, 2022, tonight’s game will be the first time Gaudreau has played in front of the fans he’s been away from over the summer. While he’s had heroic moments, like the Game 7 overtime winner against the Dallas Stars last season, he’s in an enemy jersey now and should expect to hear that from the crowd.
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While Gaudreau left of his own volition, other former Flames greats left on different terms, meaning they each had unique welcomes when visiting Calgary. As mentioned, he departed as the franchise’s fifth all-time leading scorer, so how did the other nine players fair upon their return? Let’s read and find out.
Gary Roberts (1986 – 1997) Returned on October 11, 1999
Gary Roberts made his NHL debut as a 20-year-old in 1986-87 and was a key member of the 1988-89 Stanley Cup winning team. While with the Flames, he scored 505 points in 585 games, including a career-best season in 1991–92 when he scored 52 goals and 91 points. After winning the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1995–96, he retired from the game, citing ongoing problems with his neck. After returning to hockey after a season away, the Carolina Hurricanes acquired him along with Trevor Kidd for Andrew Cassels and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Roberts returned to Calgary for the first time on October 11, 1999 as a member of the Hurricanes. In a 3-3 tie between the teams, he registered no points and two shots on goal in 15:28 ice time.
Mark Giordano (2005 – 2021) returns on February 19, 2022
After patrolling the Flames’ blue line for 15 seasons, Mark Giordano left the organization in the 2021 Seattle Kraken expansion draft. While in red, he won the Norris Trophy in 2018–19, suited up for the second-most games in club history, and was the last captain of the Flames.
Currently, Giordano remains the ninth-highest scorer with 509 points in 949 games, surpassing Norris by 74 for his best season. Upon his return to Calgary on February 19, 2022, he registered no points but finished with a penalty and a minus-1 rating in 21:11 of playing time.
Guy Chouinard (1974 – 1983) returned on October 26, 1983.
Guy Chouinard was one of the original members of the Flames organization when they moved from Atlanta to Calgary in 1980. As one of the team’s early success stories, he scored 529 points in 514 games and became the first player in club history to reach 500 points. .
After nine seasons with the Flames, they traded him to the St. Louis Blues on September 6, 1983. Although Chouinard did not play in the NHL after his one-year stint with the Blues, he returned to Calgary on October 26, 1983. In that game, he had four shots on goal and one assist.
Kent Nielsen (1979 – 1985) returned on March 13, 1986.
Kent Nielson Won two Avco Cups in the World Hockey Association before joining the Atlanta Flames organization in 1979–80. Within two seasons he Set franchise record for 131 points in a single season, which still stands today. When he left the team in June 1985 (via trade), he was the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 562 points in just 425 games. Interestingly, the Flames drafted Joe Nieuwendyk in 1985 with the pick they acquired from the Minnesota North Stars.
Returned to Calgary for the first time since the trade on March 13, 1986, after picking up two assists against his former club in Minnesota on New Year’s Eve 1986. 3 ratings.
Gary Suter (1985 – 1994) Returned on February 3, 1995
Gary Suter made his NHL debut in 1985-86 winning the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year with 68 points. As a 24-year-old, he hoisted the Stanley Cup and became the Flames’ second all-time leading scorer with 564 points in 617 games, despite never scoring 100 points in a season.
After struggling with knee problems, the Flames traded Suter to the Hartford Whalers for James Patrick, Jarley Zalapski and Michael Nylander along with Paul Ronheim and Ted Drury. He ended up in another trade with the Chicago Blackhawks within a day, returning to Calgary on February 3, 1995. During that game, he scored a powerplay goal and added an assist to finish with two points.
Joe Nieuwendyk (1986 – 1995) Returned on January 26, 1996
Joe Nieuwendyk is a former Calder Trophy (1987) winner and member of the 1989 championship team, who scored 616 points in 577 games with the Flames. After a contract dispute and a long stalemate, The team traded their disgruntled player To the Dallas Stars on Dec. 19, 1995 for Jarome Iginla and Corey Millen.
Although Nieuwendyk missed the first three months of the season, he did not miss the opportunity to score four points against his former team in their two matchups that year. Returning to Calgary on January 26, 1996, he scored a powerplay goal and added an assist to finish the night with two points.
Al McInnis (1981 – 1994) Returned on March 22, 1995
Al McInnis made his NHL debut as an 18-year-old during the 1981–82 season and would serve on the Flames’ blue line until the end of the 1993–94 campaign. During his tenure with the club, he won the Conn Smith and Norris Trophies in 1989 when the team captured the Stanley Cup. The former first-rounder and eventual Hall of Famer left the Flames as their all-time leading scorer with 822 points in 803 games.
In July 1994, McInnis went to the St. Louis Blues (with a fourth round pick) in exchange for two second round picks and Phil Housley. Finally, he returned to Calgary on March 22, 1995 and registered two points with a power play goal and assist despite finishing the evening with a minus-2 rating.
Theoren Fleury (1988 – 1999) Returned on April 15, 1999
Theo Fleury Had a memorable run with the Flames, eventually becoming their leading scorer. Additionally, he was a member of the 1989 championship team and scored 51 goals with 104 points in 1990–91 and finished fifth in Hart Trophy voting. When he left the club (via trade) in 1999, he had 830 points in 791 games.
The deal with the Colorado Avalanche occurred on February 28, 1999, when Fleury and Chris Dingman went to the Avs in exchange for a second-round pick, Wade Bellak, Rene Corbett, and Robin Regehr. Shortly thereafter, Fleury returned to Calgary on April 15, 1999 and registered four penalty minutes with no points in the loss.
Jerome Iginla (1996 – 2013) Retrieved on December 10, 2013
No single player in Flames history is more beloved than Jarome Iginla. He was the ultimate leader in the dressing room, on the ice and in the community. He is the only player to play in more than 1,000 games (1,219) and score more than 1,000 points (1,095).
Unfortunately, Shikha failed to stay competitive and Facing their favorite captain to the Pittsburgh Penguins in March 2013. The deal involved Iginla going east in exchange for a first-round pick, along with Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski coming west. Finally, he returned to Calgary as a member of the Boston Bruins on December 10, 2013. Unfortunately, he was unable to score any points despite collecting four shots on goal in 21:36 of ice time.
Interestingly, only a few names left the team on bad terms; However, no one insulted the fans more than Gaudreau, who should expect a hostile crowd any time he touches. Although Gaudreau has only been gone for six months, he didn’t factor into the previous matchup early in the season, scoring no points. Overall, it will be interesting to see if the All-Star forward has any magic in the Saddledome or if he will suffer the same fate as other former players making their first game back in front of the Flames faithful.
Ryan Gagne is back for his second tour of duty with The Hockey Writers. In 2021 he wrote about the New York Islanders and will now take on the challenge of covering the Calgary Flames. The best part of this new assignment is that Ryan currently lives in Edmonton and will get to see both sides of Alberta’s battle up close and personal. He was born and raised in New England and the Boston Bruins are his regular team.