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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Looking Back on the Return to Calgary of 10 Longtime Flames Greats

Jarome Iginla's return to the Saddledome tonight for the first time since being traded by the Flames last March is being heralded as a really big deal -- and that's because it is. Having played 16 seasons and a franchise-high 1,219 games with Calgary, there has never been a more anticipated return of a former player than for the guy who was the face of the franchise for a decade and a half and is the club's all-time leader with 525 goals and 1,095 points.

Here is a look at how the return night went for 10 of the most notable, longest tenured former Flames players, who began their NHL career in Calgary, eventually left, and then made (or will soon be making) a return to the city and arena they once called home.

While it was a story line at the time, none of these return visits carried anywhere near the hype that Iginla's return has created. In fact, I had forgotten that defenceman Robyn Regehr -- second to Iginla in career games for the Flames, had yet to make a return visit to Calgary despite being traded three seasons ago.

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1. Jarome Iginla - 1,219 games with Flames

How He Left - Traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino and a 2013 1st round draft pick (Morgan Klimchuk).
Date He Left - Mar. 28, 2013
Date He Will Return - Dec. 10, 2013 (8 months, 13 days later)

How He Fared - TBD
Game Summary - TBD

Iginla Stat Line - TBD

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2. Robyn Regehr - 826 games with Flames

How He Left - Traded to the Buffalo Sabres with Ales Kotalik and a 2012 2nd round draft pick (Jake McCabe) in exchange for Chris Butler and Paul Byron. (Subsequently on Apr. 1, 2013, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for two 2014 2nd round draft picks.)
Date He Left - June 25, 2011
Date He Will Return - Feb. 27, 2014 (2 years, 8 months, 2 days later)

How He Fared - TBD
Game Summary - TBD

Regehr Stat Line - TBD

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3. Al MacInnis - 803 games with Flames

How He Left - Traded to the St. Louis Blues with a 1997 4th round draft pick (Didier Tremblay) in exchange for Phil Housley, a 1996 2nd round draft pick (Steve Begin) and a 1997 2nd round draft pick (John Tripp).
Date He Left - July 4, 1994
Date He Returned - Jan. 24, 1995 (6 months, 20 days later)

How He Fared - 6-4 Loss
Game Summary - Early in the abbreviated season after the first NHL lockout was finally settled, St. Louis (2-1-0) and Calgary (2-0-1) met in a battle of unbeaten teams. Joe Nieuwendyk had a goal and two assists to lead the Flames to the victory. Phil Housley chipped in with three assists. German Titov had a a goal and an assist and Steve Chiasson had a pair of helpers. Trevor Kidd got the start for the Flames. Esa Tikkanen paced the offence for St. Louis with a goal and two assists. Al MacInnis and Bill Houlder each had one goal and one assist.

MacInnis Stat Line - 1 g, 1 a, minus-3, 5 shots, 0 PIM

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4. Theoren Fleury - 791 games with Flames

How He LeftTraded to the Colorado Avalanche with Chris Dingman in exchange for Rene Corbet, Wade Belak, Robyn Regehr and a 2002 2nd round draft pick (Jarret Stoll).
Date He Left - Feb. 28, 1999
Date He Returned - Apr. 15, 1999 (1 month, 15 days later)

How He Fared - 5-1 Loss
Game Summary - Colorado (43-27-10) was having a superb year but were not very good on this night as they were knocked off by Calgary (30-39-12) in this late season clash. The Flames got two goals from Clarke Wilm, three assists from Cory Stillman and one goal-one assist nights from Valeri Bure and Hnat Domenichelli. In net, Ken Wregget made 24 saves for the victory. The losing goaltender was Patrick Roy, beaten five times on 24 shots. The lone goal for the Avalanche came from Eric Messier.

Fleury Stat Line - 0 g, 0 a, minus-1, 3 shots, 4 PIM

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5. Joel Otto - 730 games with Flames

How He Left - Signed with the Philadelphia Flyers as a free agent.
Date He Left - July 21, 1995
Date He Returned - Dec. 29, 1995 (5 months, 8 days later)

How He Fared - 3-2 Win
Game Summary - This was a mismatch on paper but Calgary put up a good fight, only to lose by one. Joel Otto and Rod Brind'Amour each had two assists to help Philadelphia (22-11-5) to the victory. Pat Falloon, Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg scored for the Flyers, who were backed by Ron Hextall's 25 saves. Dean Evason and James Patrick replied for Calgary (10-21-7). The Flames got 21 saves from Trevor Kidd.

Otto Stat Line - 0 g, 2 a, plus-1, 0 shots, 0 PIM

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6. Gary Suter - 617 games with Flames

How He Left - Traded to the Hartford Whalers with Paul Ranheim and Ted Drury in exchange for Michael Nylander, James Patrick and Zarley Zalapski. (Subsequently on Mar. 11, 1994, Hartfotd traded Suter, Randy Cunneyworth and a 1995 3rd round draft pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Frantisek Kucera and Jocelyn Lemieux.)
Date He Left - Mar. 10, 1994
Date He Returned - Feb. 3, 1995 (9 months, 24 days later)

How He Fared - 4-3 Win
Game Summary - Gary Suter along with fellow American defenceman Chris Chelios each had a goal and an assist to lead the way for Chicago (5-3-0), which had Jeff Hackett in net. Tony Amonte and Eric Weinrich also scored. Calgary (3-3-1) got two goals from German Titov and one from Theoren Fleury. Trevor Kidd had 27 saves for the Flames.

Suter Stat Line - 1 g, 1 a, plus-1, 2 shots, 0 PIM

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7. Jamie Macoun - 586 games with Flames

How He Left - Traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs with Doug Gilmour, Ric Nattress, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville in exchange for Craig Berube, Alexander Godynyuk, Gary Leeman, Michel Petit and Jeff Reese.
Date He Left - Jan. 2, 1992
Date He Returned - Mar. 5, 1992 (2 months, 3 days later)

How He Fared - 5-5 Tie
Game Summary - In a battle of sub .500 teams, the Leafs demonstrated who won the controversial deal. Doug Gilmour -- also in that same trade, led the way for Toronto (24-36-7) with a goal and two assists. Wendel Clark and Ric Nattress -- part of the deal as well, each had two assist nights for the visitors. Calgary (25-31-10) got a goal and an assist from Joe Nieuwendyk and two-assist games from Al MacInnis and Gary Roberts. Mike Vernon made 28 saves for Calgary. Rick Wamsley and Grant Fuhr split the Leafs goaltending duties.

Macoun Stat Line - 0 g, 0 a, plus-3, 0 shots, 0 PIM

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8. Gary Roberts - 585 games with Flames

How He Left - Traded to the Carolina Hurricanes with Trevor Kidd in exchange for Andrew Cassels and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Date He Left - Aug. 25, 1997
Date He Returned - Oct. 11, 1999 (2 years, 1 month, 16 days later)

How He Fared - 3-3 Tie
Game Summary - In an early season meeting, Sami Kapanen led Carolina (2-1-1) with a goal and two assists. Ron Francis had one goal and one assist and Bates Battaglia had two assists. David Tanabe had the other Hurricanes goal. Cory Stillman paced still winless Calgary (0-3-1) with a goal and an assist. Derek Morris and Clarke Wilm also scored. In net, Grant Fuhr for the Flames and Arturs Irbe each made 26 saves.

Roberts Stat Line - 0 g, 0 a, even, 2 shots, 0 PIM

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9. Joe Nieuwendyk - 577 games with Flames

How He Left - Traded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Corey Millen and Jarome Iginla.
Date He Left - Dec. 19, 1995
Date He Returned - Jan. 26, 1996 (1 month, 7 days later)

How He Fared - 4-2 Win
Game Summary - In a battle of struggling teams, Dallas (14-23-10) got two goals and two assists from Mike Modano as the Stars scored three power play goals in the victory. Dave Gagner had a goal and two assists and Joe Nieuwendyk had a goal and an assist. Allan Bester made 27 saves for the win. Theoren Fleury had a goal an an assist to lead Calgary (17-23-9). Gary Roberts also scored for the Flames, who had Rick Tabaracci in net.

Nieuwendyk Stat Line - 1 g, 1 a, even, 3 shots, 0 PIM

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10. Mike Vernon - 467 games with Flames (at time of trade, 526 total including his second stint with Calgary)

How He Left - Traded to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Steve Chiasson. (Subsequently on Aug. 18, 1997,  Detroit traded Vernon to the San Jose Sharks with a 1999 5th round draft pick in exchange for a 1998 2nd round draft pick and a 1999 2nd round draft pick.)
Date He Left - June 29, 1994
Date He Returned (and started) - Dec. 1, 1997 (3 years, 2 months, 3 days later)

How He Fared - 3-2 Loss (overtime)
Game Summary - In a showdown between two dreadful teams, Jarome Iginla had a goal and an assist to lead Calgary (6-15-7) over San Jose (9-18-2). German Titov and Jamie Allison also scored for the Flames as Rick Tabaracci outduelled Mike Vernon between the pipes. Murray Craven had both goals for San Jose, Owen Nolan assisting on both of them.

Vernon Stat Line - 3 GA, 25 SV, 28 SA, 61:22 TOI

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