In this Calgary Flames News & Rumors update, David Rittich made his Toronto Maple Leafs debut on Tuesday night, and ironically enough it came against his former team. Captain Mark Giordano set a team record, becoming the franchises all-time leader in game-winning goals for a defenceman. Meanwhile, after playing in his 1,000th game last week, Milan Lucic will receive a silver stick during Monday night’s game for the big achievement. After the season feeling lost for many weeks, the Flames are all of a sudden back in the playoff hunt. It isn’t all good for them, however, as their new arena deal has been paused due to budget concerns, which has some questioning what lies ahead.
On April 11, general manager Brad Treliving made a deal to send Rittich, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, to the Maple Leafs in exchange for a third-round pick. Oddly enough, their next scheduled game came just two nights later against the Czech goaltender’s new team. Because of this, Rittich flew out with his former Flames teammates and was shortly after announced as the Maple Leafs starting goalie that night.
Unfortunately for Rittich, he was unable to secure the win for his new team, as Calgary came away with a 3-2 overtime win. It remains the only start he has made for his new club, although he did come on in relief two nights later versus the Winnipeg Jets.
Giordano Sets New Record
Giordano’s most recent goal, which came on April 14 versus the Montreal Canadiens, was a big one for multiple reasons. One of them is that it ended up going down as the game-winning goal in a 4-1 win against a team they are trying to chase down in the standings. The other is that it set a franchise record, as he now sits atop the all-time Flames leaderboard for game-winning goals by a defenceman with 23.
To make this even more impressive, he passed Hall of Fame defenceman Al MacInnis, who had the record for many years with 22 game-winners. The 37-year-old Giordano may no longer be the Norris Trophy winner he was just a few seasons ago, but he is still quite effective with eight goals and 22 points in 44 games.
Lucic Receiving Silver Stick
Last week, it was well documented that Lucic was playing in his 1,000th career game. This is a huge accomplishment given that just 354 other players have reached that mark in NHL history. Due to both of the Flames games being on the road last week, he had yet to receive the customary silver stick given to all players who hit 1,000 career games. Instead, that happened during a ceremony prior to yesterday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.
The 32-year-old didn’t take his foot off the gas pedal in his 1,000th game, as he dropped the gloves with Scott Sabourin midway through the first period. As of today, he has now played in 1,002 career games, registering 213 goals and 538 points along with 1,166 penalty minutes.
Playoff Race Back on?
Just a few short weeks ago, nearly everybody thought the Flames season was finished. However, a recent three-game winning streak has made things somewhat interesting again. Although they still have a lot of ground to make up, they are within six points of the Montreal Canadiens. That doesn’t sound all that close, especially when you realize the Habs also have two games in hand; however, the two play each other three more times before the end of the month.
These two played each other twice this past week as well, though the Flames were only able to win one of them. Had they been able to come out on top of both, it would have made things very exciting heading down the stretch. With the loss, it puts things back into perspective and doesn’t seem likely, but if they are able to take all three against the Canadiens coming up, this race could come right down to the wire.
Some slightly concerning news came out of Calgary earlier this week, when it was announced that there will be a delay in the building of the team’s new arena due to budget concerns. The budget estimate was set at $550 million, but sounds as though it may require more than originally thought.
This will be an interesting development due to the fact construction on the arena was set to begin this August, but will now likely be pushed back as a result. That also puts into question the completion date, which was planned to be in 2024. As of now, this seems like a problem that will get hashed out at some point this year, but if not, could lead to some serious questions about what lies ahead for this team.
Former Jr. A player turned writer. Cover both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, and am part of both the Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.