Flames News & Rumors: Andersson, Tkachuk, Sutter, Captaincy & More

In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, defenceman Rasmus Andersson is a little bit lighter in the wallet after being fined by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety (DoPS). In other news, Matthew Tkachuk spoke about his relationship with head coach Darryl Sutter, and dispelled the notion that the two had a rift last season. Meanwhile, Sutter is in no rush to name a captain this season, and has instead chose to start the year with four alternates. Their season began on Saturday night in a battle with the Edmonton Oilers, one which they fell short in and in doing so continued an ugly streak.

Andersson Fined by Department of Player Safety

Early into the Flames season opener in an intense Battle of Alberta, Andersson let his emotions get the best of him in a scrum with Oilers Kailer Yamamoto. The 24-year-old blueliner appeared to headbutt Yamamoto, and was given a double minor for roughing, one in which the Oilers were able to convert on. Andersson told reporters on Sunday that it was a bad penalty to take, though he denied that he headbutted the Oilers forward. (from ‘Kristen Anderson: Flames’ Andersson fined, but defends himself over altercation with Oilers’ Yamamoto’ , Calgary Herald 10/17/21).

Related: Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors: Matthews, Holl, Bishop, Mrazek & Hutch

“There was no headbutt,” Andersson said. “I got a $5,000 fine for roughing and not a headbutt. So in my opinion, I did not try or I did not headbutt him.”

Rasmus Andersson Calgary Flames
Rasmus Andersson, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As mentioned in his comments, the DoPS chose to fine him $5,000, which is the maximum allowable under the CBA. Thankfully for the Flames, they went with this ruling instead of a suspension, meaning Andersson will be in the lineup Monday night versus the Anaheim Ducks.

No Tension Between Tkachuk and Sutter

While the entire Flames roster struggled in 2020-21, one player in particular who had a rough season was Tkachuk. The 23-year-old didn’t contribute offensively like everyone is used to seeing, and didn’t seem to bring his usual intensity to games. His play seemed to go downhill immediately after the hiring of Darryl Sutter, and many were quick to notice his ice time was cut dramatically by his new bench boss, causing many to think the two didn’t see eye to eye. He spoke with media about his relationship with his head coach this past week. (from ‘Kristen Anderson: Calgary Flames’ Tkachuk puts rumors to rest over feud with Sutter’ , Calgary Sun 10/14/21).

“So far, it’s been really good,” Tkachuk said. “I think that definitely certain players and basically everybody on our team, no one can look at you and say they had a good year last year. With that comes some blame, but you want to have that pressure. You want to have that pressure to do better this year. I think that comes with some good communication off the ice. I think it’s been good so far. (Sutter) telling me his expectations this year, they’re clear for myself and for the rest of the guys.”

Whether there was a sort of divide between the two remains unknown, but the good news is that things appear to be well between the two now. If the Flames hope to be successful in 2021-22, they will need Tkachuk at his best, and if he is seeing eye to eye with Sutter that will make things much easier on him.

Flames Going Without a Captain

After the Seattle Kraken selected Mark Giordano in the expansion draft, many questions arose as to who the Flames new captain would be. The general consensus was that Tkachuk would be the man for the job, however given that he currently has just one season remaining on his contract, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to give him the captaincy just yet. That is why Sutter has instead chosen to go with four alternates to begin the 2021-22 season.

Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan, Chris Tanev and Tkachuk will be the teams four alternate captains for the time being. Monahan has worn an ‘A’ since the 2015-16 season, while Tkachuk and Backlund have since the 2018-19 season. Tanev, on the other hand, wore a letter during the end of the 2020-21 season, his first with the Flames, and wore one for a number of years prior with the Vancouver Canucks.

Calgary Flames' Matthew Tkachuk
Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

While those four will have the letters on their sweaters, they won’t be the only ones the team will be counting on for leadership. As Milan Lucic told reporters, it will be a leadership by committee approach this season. (from ‘Wes Gilbertson: Flames will wait to name captain, open season with four alternates’ , Montreal Gazette 10/16/21).

“It’s not one guy that’s kind of taking over for the loss of the captain,” Lucic said. “I think it’s a group thing. I think it puts pressure on a few guys to step up in that sense and sometimes pressure is good. You get to see some true colours come out of guys when the spotlight is on them more. We’re going to have to do that as a committee and come together as a group to fill that void.

“I have full confidence that this group can come together and do that.”

Opening Night Loss Continues Ugly Streak for Flames

The Flames got their season underway on Saturday night, though it didn’t go as they hoped. They were defeated 5-2 by the highly skilled Oilers, led by Connor McDavid who scored a hat trick. While it is only one loss, it continues an ugly streak for the Flames, as they have now lost 12 straight opening nights, which is an NHL record. The record was previously held by the Minnesota North Stars and the Buffalo Sabres, who each lost seven straight opening night games.

Though they did lose the game however, it wasn’t a bad effort from the Flames. In fact, they controlled much of the play throughout the game, but ran into a hot goaltender in Mike Smith who kicked aside 45 of 47 shots. They will look to turn things around on Monday against the Ducks, in hopes of picking up their first win of the 2021-22 season.

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