Flames Jankowski: Family Hockey Roots Run Deep

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to Calgary Flames center Mark Jankowski. The Flames’ #77 is not the first ‘Janko’ to don an NHL sweater nor will he be the last (or so it seems). His family ties to the sport have spanned generations and have influenced his rise up the ranks.

On July 25, the Flames signed the 23-year-old to a two-year, $3.35 million deal which carries an annual cap hit of close to $1.675 million per season. Jankowski was slotted in as a third-line center in his rookie season, pencilled in below Flames’ mainstay at center Sean Monahan (who has led the team in goals in three of the last four seasons) and Mikael Backlund, who recently captained Team Sweden to a gold medal at this year’s IIHF World Championships. How will Jankowski stand out this season?

Calgary Flames Mark Jankowski and Arizona Coyotes goalie Adin Hill
Calgary Flames Mark Jankowski directs a puck passed Arizona Coyotes goalie Adin Hill (Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports)

The Standout From Stanstead

Setting himself apart from the crowd has not been difficult for Jankowski in his hockey career. In fact, he was on the Flames’ radar while he was still in high school. Jankowski attended Stanstead College, an independent prep school in eastern Quebec, from 2010-2012 and played four seasons of hockey there, where he racked up 157 points in 117 regular season games for the Spartans.

By mid-season in 2012, he was ranked no. 74 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and his stock continued to rise throughout the season leading up to the NHL Entry Draft at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. He was drafted by the Flames 21st overall in the first round, solidifying the Dundas, Ontario native as the highest selected Canadian player drafted out of high school.

Mark Jankowski, 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Calgary Flames
Mark Jankowski at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (Lisa McRitchie/Kukla’s Korner)

Impressive? Sure, but not surprising when you consider in whose footsteps he followed to get there. 

A Jankowski Family Tradition

The Jankowski family has deep-seated roots in hockey and Mark is another promising addition to their legacy. His younger brother, David, is en route too. David recently signed an amateur tryout contract with the Flames and attended their development camp this summer.

Their father, Len, spent four seasons playing hockey at Cornell University (1978-1982), while their uncle, Ryan Jankowski, is the director of amateur scouting for the Buffalo Sabres. Mark’s grandfather, Lou, was a former NHLer, splitting time between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks in the mid-to-late 1950s. Lou also had ties to the City of Calgary. He called ‘Cowtown’ home for a number of years and was a star with the Calgary Stampeders of the Western Hockey League, playing five seasons from 1958-1963. His best season was in 1960-61 when he set a league record, scoring 57 goals and adding 42 assists in 69 games.

The most notable name in the Jankowski family tree is Mark’s great-uncle, NHL great, Red Kelly.

An NHL legend and Hall of Famer, Leonard “Red” Kelly, played for the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs between 1947-1967. In his illustrious career, Kelly recorded 1,316 points in 823 regular season games as a defenseman, adding 92 points in 164 playoff games. Kelly is considered an untouchable, as a winner of eight Stanley Cups (four with the Leafs and four with the Red Wings).

He won the Norris Trophy in 1954 as the league’s top defenseman, captured the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy four times during his career and is remembered as one of the ‘great gentlemen’ in the history of the sport. After he retired, he became the first coach in the expansion Los Angeles Kings’ organization. Kelly was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.

Finding Success as a Friar

After the 2012 draft, Mark opted to play NCAA Division 1 hockey for the Providence Friars in Rhode Island. Alumni of the Friars hockey program also include Flames goaltending prospect, Jon Gillies, as well as the club’s former president of hockey operations, Brian Burke.

Jankowski played in Providence for four seasons and distinguished himself in 2015-16, his final year. His 15 goals and 25 assists equalled the first 40-point season by a single player in over a decade. He was named a CCM Second Team All-American in April of that year and a First Team East All-Star. He also took home the Robert Gaudreau Jr. Award (most goals in a season), the Michael Boback Award (most assists), and the Gates Orlando Award (most points).

Mark Jankowski, Providence Friars
Mark Jankowski celebrates as a member of the Providence Friars. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Following his time as a Friar, Jankowski spent parts of three seasons with the Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Stockton Heat (2015-2018). His one true full season with the Heat came in 2015-16 when he appeared in 64 games, scoring 56 points (27 goals, 29 assists) in that span. He played in just six games last season before being called up to the Flames, where he remained for the rest of the year.

A Respectable Rookie-Year in Calgary

Jankowski appeared in 72 games in his rookie season for the Flames in 2017-18 and scored 17 goals, good for fifth among Flames forwards, and eight assists. He was the anchor on the third line during the regular season, averaging 48.8% in the face-off circle, while compiling 33 penalty minutes and a minus-7 rating.

He finished the season in style, scoring four goals in the final game when the Flames defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 7-1. It was a great way to cap off a rookie campaign, and for Flames fans, it should be a positive precursor to his sophomore season.

What to Expect in 2018-19

Looking ahead to this season, there are reasons to be optimistic about the Flames. The addition of James Neal in the off-season provides an opportunity for players to move into more flattering roles on the depth chart. For example, it affords Jankowski the opportunity to play regularly with a defensively responsible veteran like Michael Frolik. Also, assuming Jankowski continues to position his 6-foot-3 frame in front of the net on a consistent basis, he should be capable of reaching the 20-goal mark this year.

Jankowski will ideally continue to build chemistry with linemate Sam Bennett, who will likely slot in as the third-line winger in Calgary’s lineup. Bennett is entering his final year of a two-year bridge deal and has a lot to prove this season. If the two can click, they will be another offensively rich unit in the Flames’ arsenal in 2018-19.