In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, both Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar are of to fantastic starts in 2021-22, and Vladar recently spoke to how Markstrom’s mentorship has already benefitted him in a major way. In other news, former Flames in Dion Phaneuf and Troy Brouwer both recently announced their retirements. Last but not least, Johnny Gaudreau’s great week had him recognized as the NHLs first star of the week on Monday.
Markstrom Mentoring Vladar
Through 19 games played this year, the Flames already have a ridiculous seven shutouts. Head coach Darryl Sutter’s defensive minded schemes have certainly helped, but it can’t be stated enough how great both Markstrom and Vladar have been in the early going.
Vladar, who was acquired from the Boston Bruins this summer, has just 10 career games under his belt, but has looked like a seasoned vet in his five starts in 2021-22. The 24-year-old credits his success to playing with an elite goalie like Markstrom. (from ‘Wes Gilbertson: Flames backup Vladar ‘so fortunate’ to learn from Rask and now Markstrom’ , Calgary Sun, 11/21/21).
“I’ve got a privilege to watch one of the best goalies in the league,” said Vladar. “I know my role here. I’m super, super grateful and happy to get the chance to be here because I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for five, almost six years. And when I’m watching Marky, I just feel like I’m getting better every day.
“I’m watching him in practice. He even talks to me in TV timeouts. He talks to me between periods. So he’s been great to me.”
It speaks volumes to Markstrom’s character that he is not only putting in the work to get better himself, but is also trying to do whatever he can to make Vladar a better goaltender. The Flames crease appears to be in very good hands.
Both Phaneuf and Brouwer Call it a Career
“The last couple of weeks where I knew that I was going to formally announce my retirement, you do a lot of reflecting,” Phaneuf said on Tuesday. “Growing up in Edmonton, my dad always made a backyard rink for me and when we played out there, it was my dream to play in the National Hockey League. When I look back at my journey, you just wanted to play a game but I was very fortunate to make a living playing this great game. I enjoyed every part of the journey, I played with some great teammates, played for some great ownership. You don’t have enough time to thank everybody.”
After being drafted ninth overall in 2003, Phaneuf played in five seasons for the Flames before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs midway through the 2009-10 campaign. His years in Calgary were the best of his career, as he scored a career high 20 goals as a rookie, and set a career high in points with 60 just two seasons later. In total, he played in 1048 career NHL games, registering 137 goals and 494 points.
Just days after Phaneuf’s announcement, another former Flame in Brouwer also let it be known he too is hanging up the skates. The 36-year-old played in two seasons with the Flames from 2016-18, scoring a combined 19 goals and 47 points in 150 games.
“I’m going to miss the relationships that I was able to make over the years with guys on my teams and their families,” Brouwer said. “Playing this game, you always get to meet new people, you always get to have experiences with those people and a lot of those you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. I’m going to miss that competitiveness, and I’m going to miss those big moments where you have an opportunity to do something amazing after you’ve worked your whole life to get to that moment.”
Brouwer played a total of 851 career NHL games, scoring 182 goals and 363 points. He was also apart of the Chicago Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup victory and played a big role in the playoffs that year, scoring four goals and eight points in 19 games.
Gaudreau Voted First Star of the Week
Last week was a great one for Gaudreau, who scored four goals and seven points in four games. As a result, he was named the NHL’s first star of the week. It marks the second time this season a Flames player has been named a star of the week, as Jacob Markstrom received that honor for his play in the first week of November.
It has been a great start to the season for Gaudreau, who has 22 points through his team’s first 19 games. The 28-year-old is setting himself up for a nice pay day, as his current contract that carries a cap hit of $6.75 million is set to expire at seasons end.
Up Next for the Flames
It has been a terrific start to the 2021-22 season for the Flames, as their 11-3-5 record currently has them sitting in first place in the Pacific Division. They have a quiet week ahead of them, as they face off against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night and are then off until Friday where they will take on the Winnipeg Jets.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.