Gilbertson: As Flames wrap irritating season, Backlund’s pause says all of it


The reply will elevate eyebrows.

And the pause that preceded it, that will have been essentially the most revealing half.

Mikael Backlund has been a fixture on the Saddledome for what looks like endlessly. He has yet one more season on his present contract, which can nudge him near 1,000 profession video games — all in a Calgary Flames jersey.

And but when Backlund was requested Friday, shortly after his annual exit assembly with workforce brass, in regards to the potential of speaking extension this summer time, there was hesitation. For 5 seconds, he supplied solely a few uhhhs. He began with the identical uncertainty as a 1994 Honda Accord on the coldest of February mornings.

“We’ll see what occurs,” Backlund lastly stated.

One other pause.

“I’ve been right here for a very long time and I like Calgary, I like this group,” he confused. “However the 12 months that we had, I’m 34 years outdated and I need to win the Stanley Cup and I … I don’t know this summer time what’s going to occur, in the event that they even supply me something. I’d need to see what this group can do earlier than I decide.”

That, particularly coming from an alternate captain and the longest-serving skater on the roster, is hardly a ringing endorsement for the route the Flames are headed — and that is alleged to be their successful window.

They arrived for coaching camp within the fall with sky-high expectations, hyped as a could-be title contender and believing each phrase of it.

On Friday, because the NHL’s elite ready for the opening spherical of the Stanley Cup chase, they had been cleansing out their lockers. They did flirt with historical past, however solely by difficult the league report for many one-goal losses.

Quite a lot of Flames gamers insisted throughout this remaining media availability that they see the framework of a championship-calibre bunch. Backlund, a five-time playoff participant in his 14 seasons on the Saddledome, had hoped that this might be that particular spring.

“I’ve solely been within the second spherical right here. I need to go additional,” he stated. “The 12 months that we had this 12 months, it’s irritating, for positive. It’s not the 12 months any of us needed to have.

“My dream is, like anybody else, to win a Stanley Cup. However the greatest dream of all can be to do it right here in Calgary. I’d like to do it right here in Calgary.”

However he’s unsure that’s lifelike within the subsequent few seasons.

That’s what Backlund, who notched a career-high 56 factors throughout a 38-27-17 slog, was primarily saying when he didn’t appear fairly positive what to say.

And what about Elias Lindholm, his current deal additionally expiring after the 2023-24 marketing campaign?

“We’ll see what occurs,” Lindholm shrugged. “I’ve yet one more 12 months and I’m gonna take a look at it that manner. I’ve yet one more 12 months, and that’s all I can say.”

That’s hardly a bring-me-a-pen proclamation.

Requested what it could take to persuade him to stay round for the long-term, Lindholm reminded he isn’t even eligible to re-up for two-and-a-half months. He didn’t point out this, however the actuality is no person is aware of if Brad Treliving will nonetheless be the Flames’ basic supervisor then. His contract will quickly run out. (Treliving’s end-of-season tackle can be someday subsequent week.)

“It’s not July 1


and haven’t talked and haven’t thought of it,” Lindholm stated. “The season simply ended and we missed the playoffs. It’s simply disappointing.”

Seated to his proper, defenceman MacKenzie Weegar interjected with an thought of what it’d take to maintain the 28-year-old centre in Calgary.

“An enormous bag of money,” he quipped.

This isn’t nearly a great deal of loot. Flames followers worry mediocrity, particularly since difference-making gamers are anxious to keep away from it.

With a half-dozen key contributors about to enter the ultimate 12 months of their contracts — additionally on that record are workforce main scorer Tyler Toffoli, whose smiley-face hat contradicted Friday’s temper, and blue-liners Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov — and with rumours swirling that some are already eager to get out, it could have been reassuring to listen to Backlund and Lindholm say that there’s no place they’d reasonably be.

They didn’t.

Now, let’s not neglect that Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk had been anxious to declare their want to remain put. Then one signed in Columbus of all locations and the opposite pressured a commerce.

And let’s not neglect Backlund and Lindholm, in contrast to Gaudreau throughout that memorable soliloquy final spring, are nonetheless a 12 months out from unrestricted free company. Rather a lot can change. Rather a lot can occur. It’s comprehensible that they want a while to digest what Backlund described as “undoubtedly the toughest season I’ve performed, emotionally and mentally, with all of the ups and downs.”

For what it’s value, Hanifin, Tanev, Toffoli and Zadorov stated all the precise issues in regards to the thought of extending their stint in Cowtown. Zadorov was essentially the most captivated with it.

“I informed my household, informed my spouse, I’d like to be a Calgary Flame endlessly,” he stated.

Most figured Backlund can be a Flame endlessly.

He wasn’t saying that Friday. And what does that say about what lies forward for this franchise?

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