As the 2023-24 hockey season approaches, buoyant expectations hang around the Calgary Flames. A modified team, different from the one that sat just two points short of making it to the NHL post-season last year, now stands resolute under fresh leadership. Their dressing room, a shrine to tenacity, bears the mantra “compete, commitment, consistency”.
Defenceman MacKenzie Weegar expressed the team’s confidence at a training camp press briefing, asserting, “We’ve got the team in here” and emphasizing the irrelevance of outside opinion to the lock-solid faith among team members.
As Calgary Flames shuffle personnel, Craig Conroy steps in as the new GM and Ryan Huska assumes the role of head coach after Brad Treliving exited to join Toronto Maple Leafs and Darryl Sutter was relieved of his position. The Flames stride into this season showing off the ‘C’ on centre Mikael Backlund’s chest, marking the end of two ‘captainless’ seasons.
The Flamers are keen on fostering a harmonious and lighthearted atmosphere around the team without compromising on hard work. They believe enjoyment and diligence can co-exist and lead to victories.
The previous season saw the Flames missing a high number of shots, which was also highlighted by strikers hitting the goalpost and crossbars 81 times. Following Tyler Toffoli’s exit, the team is facing an uphill battle in terms of goal conversions.
However, hope arrived in the form of right-winger Yegor Sharangovich from Belarus, and Andrew Mangiapane. Both showed promising performances during the training camp. Matt Coronato, who emerged on top in the club’s 2021 first-round pick, also made a statement of intent to turn into a pivotal player this season.
There’s much anticipation around a potential comeback of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri, the two figures who played a key role in the Flames’ previous successful endeavors.
Regardless, the fortunes of the Flames are tied strongly to the performance of goalie Jacob Markstrom who is yet to reach his peak. The seasoned goalie brushed his past performance aside stating, “I don’t look back. I look forward”.
With the Flames boasting a solid blue line with top five Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Weeger, Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov, and the addition of Jordan Oesterle, the team’s outlook appears sound. In Weegar’s words, their top six can take on any team in the league.
As the team renews its vigor with the newly-formed coach trio of Marc Savard, Dan Lambert, and Cail MacLean assisting Ryan Huska, they aim to maintain a balance within the group and develop the best strategies.
Calgary Flames are gearing up for a series of matches in the coming season, including the Heritage Classic in Edmonton. With countless challenges and tests of their mettle ahead, a new era of Calgary Flames burgeons, promising excitement, strength, and a game that brings the heat.