Without a captain for the last two seasons, the Calgary Flames seem to have hit the mark by entrusting the reins to Mikael Backlund, who has already had his share of internal crises to deal with.
Things are slowly but surely getting back on track for the Alberta organization. Some gray areas that arose last season have disappeared and new leaders have emerged.
That’s the case for Backlund, the most experienced player in the group, who also reached the 500-point plateau on Monday night. The Swede had to be convinced to stay with the Flames in the off-season, but now he is firmly in the saddle.
“There’s a lot of buzz around the Calgary Flames and he keeps us focused on the goal, which is the most important thing. He did a good job,” defenseman Christopher Tanev told Sportsnet on Tuesday.
“He really has a calming attitude. He can also get the troops going and when we need a kick in the back, he’s there to make sure things are right,” the vice-captain added.
Mark Giordano’s successor, who left the “C” free when he left for Seattle in 2021, even impressed new head coach Ryan Huska, who has known him since 2008.
“He’s wanted it for a few years and I think his time has really come. He takes a lot of pride in changing certain things in the locker room,” he said.
The first file
Sam Backlund never would have thought to start his 15th season in the National League, back and forth with the Flames. The 2007 first-round pick has long been an example, though some years have been tougher.
“There were times when I told myself that I wouldn’t be here for long. I had a good debut season and then it took me a while to establish myself. It’s very special to still be here and to be the captain,” explained the 34-year-old athlete.
Less than two weeks ago, the ink flowed in Calgary precisely because of the case of the guard Nikita Zadorov, after the agent of the Russian player requested the exchange of his client on social networks.
For Backlund, it was necessary to quickly nip those unhealthy rumors in the bud and direct the attention of the locker room towards the common goal, that is, victory.
“I personally talked to “Z” and Huska and I talked about how to talk about it. I suggested that I say something to the group and then they would take over. He asked me if that would be enough and I said yes, the captain said.
Every day will be different, but for now, no one regrets Backlund’s choice.