Top 3 Areas of Improvement for the Calgary Flames

Mikael Backlund #11, Calgary Flames (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Mikael Backlund #11, Calgary Flames (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Calgary Flames are one of the most complicated teams in the NHL. No one can really predict how any given season could have gone in recent years and the roller coaster of lineup turnover, coaching changes, goaltending issues and General Manager departures have contributed to their discombobulation. They can go toe to toe with the best in the league some nights and lose to the worst in the league on others. When it all boils down to it, what issues are most pressing going into the upcoming season?

The Calgary Flames Coaching Situation:

The coaching issue from last season has been resolved, but is it really the solution? Darryl Sutter came in towards the end of the 2020-21 season on a mission. Get this team where it was when they were last in the Stanley Cup finals. Sutter’s way of coaching appears to have not hit home with this group and many referred to his style as old school and outdated.

Now that Sutter’s time with the organization has once again come to a close, a new face will be leading the charge for this squad. Ryan Huska takes up that responsibility next season with almost a decade of experience with the organization. He’s going to have a track record of what has worked with these guys and will develop his style of coaching at the NHL level. The hope is this is for the better, but this is one of those things, you don’t really know until you give him a shot.


It has now been two seasons without a captain. This lack of recognized leadership has also taken away some of the accountability in that locker room. You don’t necessarily have one guy relaying messages from players to coaches and vice versa. Instead, veteran leaders or secondary leaders have to step in. How many of those guys actually spoke up last year?

Mikael Backlund has been a name that has come up when it comes to the leadership conversation, but he doesn’t seem set on continuing his career with the Flames at the end of his contract. Other names like Rasmus Andersson, MacKenzie Weegar, Johnathan Huberdeau, and Chris Tanev have been thrown into the mix.

Craig Conroy wants a captain for this team and as a former Flames captain himself, he’s going to have a unique perspective into what type of player should lead this team.


This is multiple aspects of the Flames game all rolled up into one. Pretty much the figurative machine that was running this team had different broken pieces from time to time and never really ran at its full capacity. One part would go down, such as goaltending, scoring, defence, etc, and then once they got it sorted, another part would fail.

It was clear quite a few groups were not on the same page. While this can be excusable for short amounts of time or towards the beginning of the season, it seemed to plague the team most of the year. Some of the Flames’ highest-paid players were unable to pull their weight and when they did, it didn’t last long.

Now with just over half the summer already behind us, there is all the room for a fresh start for the 2023-24 squad. They seem to leaning in the direction of naming a captain, a new coach is behind the bench and a new general manager is overseeing the team. If things need to be resolved behind closed doors, it’s better to air it out now before games get going.

This upcoming season is sure to be an unpredictable one, but that can be some of the most thrilling aspects of following a professional sports team.