STH News Header - Flames History

From Atlanta to Calgary – The Flames History

The Calgary Flames are based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

The team was founded in 1972 as the Atlanta Flames and played in Atlanta, Georgia, for eight seasons before relocating to Calgary in 1980.

Tom Cousins, a real estate developer in Atlanta, initially owned the Flames. They were named after the city's association with the burning of the city during the American Civil War. The team played their home games at the Omni Coliseum in downtown Atlanta and had some success in their early years, making the playoffs in four of their first six seasons.

However, the team struggled to draw consistent crowds in Atlanta, and Cousins eventually sold the team to Canadian businessman Nelson Skalbania, who attempted to move the team to Houston, Texas. However, the NHL vetoed the move, and the team was eventually sold to a group of Calgary businessmen led by oil magnate Harley Hotchkiss.

That brought the team to today’s location, which brought some NHL spotlight to Canada, including solid interest from bookmakers active in betting in Canada.

The Flames played their first game in Calgary on October 9, 1980, against the Quebec Nordiques and won 5-2. The team quickly became a fan favorite in Calgary, partly thanks to the play of star players such as Lanny McDonald, Kent Nilsson, and Mike Vernon.

The Flames had tremendous success in the late 1980s and early 1990s under head coach Terry Crisp. 

Led by captain and superstar forward Jarome Iginla, the Flames made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004 but lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a hard-fought seven-game series.

Over the years, the Flames have had many memorable players and moments, including winning the Stanley Cup in 1989, setting a record for most wins in a season in 1988-89, and retiring the jersey numbers of such legendary players as Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Mike Vernon.

The most important players in the team's history

The Calgary Flames have had many important players over the years, both in Atlanta and Calgary. Here are some of the most notable:

Jarome Iginla: The most outstanding player in Flames history, Iginla played for the team from 1996-2013 and served as team captain for nine seasons. He scored over 500 goals for the Flames and won two Rocket Richard Trophies as the NHL's leading goal scorer. He led the Flames to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals and won two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada. He would indeed be seen on social media if he played nowadays!

Lanny McDonald: A Hall of Fame forward who played for the Flames from 1981-1989, McDonald was a vital member of the Flames 1989 Stanley Cup championship team. He scored the Cup-winning goal in game 6 of the Finals and remained a beloved figure in Calgary.

Al MacInnis: One of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, MacInnis played for the Flames from 1981 to 1994 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in the 1989 Cup run. He was known for his powerful slap shot and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

Joe Nieuwendyk: A talented center who played for the Flames from 1986-1995, Nieuwendyk was a vital member of the team's 1989 Cup championship and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He scored over 500 goals in his NHL career and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.

Mike Vernon: A standout goaltender who played for the Flames from 1982-1994, Vernon was a vital member of the team's 1989 Cup championship and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He ranks second on the Flames' all-time wins list and is remembered for his clutch performances in big games.

Kent Nilsson: A skilled forward who played for the Flames from 1980-1985, Nilsson was one of the most exciting players in the NHL in the early 1980s. He scored over 100 points in his first two seasons with the Flames and was a key team member that set a record for most wins in a season in 1988-89.

These are just a few great players suited up for the Flames. The team has had a tradition of strong leadership and talented players, which has helped them succeed both on and off the ice.

Sports Team History looks at the history and logo of each professional sports team to have ever existed from the MLB, MLS, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, Premier League, WNBA, XFL, ABA, AAF, or USFL.

One of our partner sites is Sports Logo History, a community of sports logo enthusiasts who enjoy each team’s logo history. In addition, we have added Sports News History to our sports history websites. 24/7 non-stop sports news that's worth knowing. Finally, the premier sports team marketplace for your favorite team or college, with thousands of items for you to peruse at Sports Market History.