For a relatively young franchise, the Calgary Flames have seen a great deal of strong individual performances since becoming a National Hockey League club in 1972. In particular, the team has had a surprisingly large amount of 50-goal scorers over the years.
In the history of the NHL, a player has scored 50-plus goals on 186 occasions. 10 of those 50-goal seasons were performed by eight different players wearing Flames sweaters.
The Almost-50 Club
Two Flames had near-misses with the 50-goal plateau:
- Kent Nilsson had 49 goals in 80 games during the 1980-81 season. That campaign set a single-season franchise record for points with 131 and came in a season where he was third in NHL scoring.
- Mike Bullard had 48 goals in 79 games during the 1987-88 season. It was Bullard’s best offensive season of his career. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues the following fall in a seven-player deal that landed the Flames Doug Gilmour, beginning a sequence of moves that resulted in Bullard being out of the NHL by 1992.
Scored 50 goals in 80 games in 1978-79
The heart and soul of the Atlanta Flames for several seasons and a 1974 draft pick, Chouinard teamed up with Bob MacMillan to put together a formidable offensive one-two punch in 1978-89. Chouinard had a career-best season, accumulating 107 points and scoring his 50th goal in the second-last game of the regular season. He ended up finishing fourth in the NHL in goals, behind Mike Bossy (69), Marcel Dionne (59) and Guy Lafleur (52). The Flames lost in the first round of the playoffs that season, but the groundwork had been laid for future playoff success.
Scored 66 goals in 80 games in 1982-83
A product of Hanna, Alberta and one of the most beloved figures in Flames franchise history, McDonald came to the Flames early in the 1981-82 season after enduring a ton of changes in his career. After a trade from Toronto Maple Leafs sent him to the floundering Colorado Rockies a swap to the Flames put the winger closer to home, but also gave him some stability and a chance to play on a strong team. In his first full season with the club, McDonald obliterated the franchise record for goals in a single season by putting up 66 in 1982-83. Chouinard required 79 games to score 50 goals in 1978-79, while McDonald matched that total in the 60th game of the season and kept scoring goals every few games until the end of the campaign. This goal-scoring record still stands as the high water mark for Flames three decades later.
Scored 50 goals in 80 games in 1987-88
One of the most versatile European players in NHL history, Loob migrated from Sweden in the mid-’80s and made history in the 1987-88 season by becoming the first Swedish player to ever score 50 goals – to date, he’s also the only Swede to accomplish the feat. Part of a powerhouse Flames club in 1987-88 that won the Presidents’ Trophy and boasted four 40-goal scorers. Loob opted to leave registering his 50th goal to the final period of the regular season, scoring a power play goal in the third period to cement himself in the history books.
Scored 51 goals in 75 games in 1987-88
Scored 51 goals in 77 games in 1988-89
A highly-touted college player, Nieuwendyk became a full-time pro in the 1987-88 season and made a bit of history. He was the second rookie to score 50 goals in NHL history – two more players have done it since – and then became the second player to score 50 goals in each of his first two seasons – Bossy is the other. He scored his 50th goal in his 66th game in 1987-88, scored his 51st the next game, and then went cold for the last eight outings. In 1988-89 he hit the 50-goal mark in his 72nd game.
Scored 51 goals in 79 games in 1988-89
One of the most dynamic American-born players in NHL history, Mullen was acquired by the Flames from the Blues in a six-player deal midway through the 1985-86 season. His first full season with the club saw him net 47 goals in 1986-87 and he had 40 goals in 1987-88. He had a breakthrough year in 1988-89, hitting the 50-goal mark. He made a big push late in the season, scoring seven goals through the final four games of the regular season – including a four-goal outburst against the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored his 50th goal in the 78th game of the season.
Scored 51 goals in 79 games in 1990-91
Arguably hockey’s best player of a smaller stature, Fleury didn’t so much play the game of hockey as much as he attacked it. In his third NHL season he had perhaps his most impressive offensive output, scoring 50 goals. He scored his 50th in style, via a Game 77 hat trick against the Vancouver Canucks. Fleury never quite matched that output again as hockey shifted firmly into the clutch-and-grab era, but he remained a productive goal-scorer.
Scored 53 goals in 76 games in 1991-92
The ’80s Flames were offensive powerhouses, which allowed some space for young players – such as Roberts – to be gradually developed on the roster. When the Flames began to feel the pinch of the weak Canadian dollar and had to start losing some of their star players, Roberts became more prominent and remained a high performing scorer until a series of injuries began to slow him down. Arguably his best season came in 1991-92 when he scored 53 goals, with his 50th coming in a two-goal performance in his 73rd game of the season.
Scored 52 goals in 82 games in 2001-02
Scored 50 goals in 82 games in 2007-08
Acquired by the Flames from the Dallas Stars in late 1995 in a swap that sent Nieuwendyk to the Stars, Iginla gradually matured into one of the most consistently dangerous goal-scorers in NHL history. He hit the 50-goal plateau twice; in 2001-02 his offensive outburst coincided with his ascent to elite status among NHL scorers, a place he remained for the better part of a decade. He scored his 50th goal in the 79th game of 2001-02, while he waited until the third period of the final game of the season to hit that level in 2007-08.