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The Calgary Flames play in the Northwest Division of the Westen Conference.

The Flames are one of two NHL franchises in Alberta, the other being the Edmonton Oilers. The cities’ proximity has led to a famous rivalry, known as the Battle of Alberta. Games between the teams are often heated events.

The team was founded in 1972 in Atlanta, Georgia as the Atlanta Flames, and moved to Calgary in 1980. The Flames played their first three seasons in Calgary at the Stampede Corral before moving into their current home arena, the Pengrowth Saddledome, in 1983.

Led by Kent Nilsson’s 49-goal, 131-point season, the Flames qualified for the playoffs in their first season in Calgary with a 39–27–4 record, good for third in the Patrick Division. The team found much greater playoff success in Calgary than it did in Atlanta, winning their first two playoff series over the Chicago Black Hawks and Philadelphia Flyers before bowing out to the Minnesota North Stars in the semi-finals.

The Flames were among the earliest teams to sign large numbers of U.S. college players, including Joel Otto, Gary Suter and Colin Patterson. Cliff Fletcher also stepped up the search for European hockey talent, acquiring Hakan Loob and other key players. He was among the first to draft players from the Soviet Union, including HC CSKA Moscow star Sergei Makarov in 1983, but Soviet players were not released to Western teams until 1989. Still, the team was sufficiently improved to challenge the Oilers, who required the maximum seven games to defeat the Flames en route to their 1984 Stanley Cup Championship. The players acquired by Fletcher matured into one of the strongest teams in the league during the mid-1980s and early 1990s.

The Flames recorded their first 100-point season in 1987–88, earning the Presidents’ Trophy for having the league’s best record and ending the Oilers’ six-year reign atop the Smythe Division in the process. Although they were swept by the Oilers in the second round of the playoffs, Joe Nieuwendyk became the second rookie in league history to score 50+ goals, earning the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. In 1989, the Flames won their first and only Stanley Cup.

In 1991, Fletcher left the Flames to become the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had been the team’s general manager since its inception in 1972. He was succeeded in Calgary by Doug Risebrough, and the two quickly completed a ten player mega-trade that saw disgruntled forward Doug Gilmour dealt to Toronto with four other players for former 50 goal scorer Gary Leeman and four others. The trade transformed both clubs. The formerly inept Leafs turned into a contender almost immediately, while Leeman scored only eleven goals in a Flames uniform.

In the 1995–96 season, Nieuwendyk was traded to the Dallas Stars in a deal that acquired Jarome Iginla. This deal wouldn’t pay dividends right away, with the flames being swept in the first round that year at the hands of the Chicago blackhawks, and missing the playoffs for the next 7 years.

After 7 consecutive seasons of not making the playoffs, the Flames finally returned to the post-season in 2004. The Flames became the first team in NHL history to defeat three division champions en route to becoming the first Canadian team to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals since the Vancouver Canucks in 1994. They would lose in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 7th game, but they re-kindled the fans spirit and gave birth to “the red mile” ( a several-block stretch of 17th Avenue S.W. in Calgary).

Led by Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, the Flames are a strong contender in the west but to succeed they will need Dion Phaneuf to have a season more in line with his talent level in 2009-10.

1st Round Draft Picks

Franchise Scoring Leaders

Year # Player Player
2009 23 Tim Erixon Jarome Iginla*
2008 25 Greg Nemisz
Theoren Fleury
2007 24 Mikael Backlund Al MacInnis
2006 26 Leland Irving Joe Nieuwendyk
2005 26 Matt Pelech Gary Suter
2004 24 Kris Chucko Kent Nilsson
2003 9 Dion Phaneuf Guy Chouinard
2002 10 Eric Nystrom Gary Roberts
2001 14 Chuck Kobasew Eric Vail
2000 9 Brent Krahn Paul Reinart