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Flames All-Time Countdown Chapter CV: 66-64

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This edition of the countdown features a trio of defencemen: Richard Mulhern, Tommy Albelin, and Cory Sarich.

Sarich was reasonably physical.
Sarich was reasonably physical.
Mike Ridewood

66. Richard Mulhern

Mulhern, a 6'1", 195 lb. defenceman, was born on March 1st, 1955 in Edmonton, Alberta. He played two seasons for the Sherbrooke Castors in the QMJHL before being drafted eighth overall by the Atlanta Flames in the 1975 NHL Draft. (He was also selected 15th overall by the Houston Aeros in the WHA Draft.) After 90 points in 70 games in his draft season, he jumped into professional hockey: first played 56 games for the CHL's Tulsa Oilers, and then joining the Atlanta Flames for 12 games at the end of the 1975-76 season. He scored his first NHL goal in those two games, and while Atlanta played two playoff games, he wasn't dressed for either of them.

The 1976-77 season was Mulhern's first full season in Atlanta. It was a career season for him, as he scored 12 goals on 156 shots, as well as 32 assists for 44 assists, and registered 80 penalty minutes over 79 games: all career highs for him. He had a plus-6 rating as well as he helped the Flames to a 34-34-12 record, and played in all three playoff games before the Flames fell 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings. Mulhern scored two assists and registered five penalty minutes during those games.

In 1977-78, Mulhern's production dropped. He once again played 79 games, but this time, only scored nine goals on 125 shots. He fell to 23 assists and 32 points as well, and recorded 47 penalty minutes; however, he did improve on plus-minus, finishing a plus-11. That season, the Flames finished with a 34-27-19 record, but fell 2-0 in the playoffs to the Detroit Red Wings. Mulhern played both games, scoring just one assist.

Mulhern's final season with the Flames came in 1978-79. He played 37 games for the team, scoring three goals on 58 shots, and putting up 12 assists for a total of 15 points. He also posted 22 penalty minutes and a plus-6 rating for Atlanta before he was traded to L.A. Mulhern, along with a second round pick, went south in exchange for Bob Murdoch and the Kings' second rounder.

Mulhern's production continued to drop after his first full season. He played for the Kings, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Winnipeg Jets before going back to the CHL and playing in Tulsa and Dallas. He retired after spending the 1980-81 season playing for three teams: Winnipeg, Tulsa, and Dallas.

All-Time Statline: 207 games, 25 goals, 67 assists, plus-15 rating, 153 penalty minutes, 15.87 point shares.

65. Tommy Albelin

Albelin, a 6'1", 200 lb. defenceman, was born in Stockholm, Sweden on May 21st, 1964. The Quebec Nordiques selected him in the eighth round, 152nd overall, of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. From 1983-87 he played in his home country of Sweden for Djugardens IF Stockholm. Over four seasons, he had 53 points over 130 games. He came to North America in 1987, playing 60 games for the Quebec Nordiques. The following season, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils, and played the next eight seasons in the organization, playing 29 AHL games and 379 NHL games. He had 131 points over those 379 games.

On February 26, 1996, the Flames traded Phil Housley and Dan Keczmer for Albelin, Cale Hulse, and Jocelyn Lemieux. Albelin played 20 games for the Flames that season, scoring just one assist, recording four penalty minutes, and recording a plus-one. The Flames finished with a 34-37-11 record that season, and were swept by the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs. Albelin played all four games, but didn't appear on the scoreboard.

The 1996-97 season was Albelin's first full season in Calgary. He played 72 games for the Flames, scoring four goals on 103 shots - only the third time in his career he had more than 100 shots on net in a single season - and 11 assists for 15 total points, as well as recording 14 penalty minutes and finishing a minus-8. The Flames finished with a 32-41-9 record and failed to make the playoffs.

In the 1997-98 season Albelin played 69 games, scoring two goals on 88 shots, as well as 17 assists for a total of 19 points. He also recorded 32 penalty minutes, and rebounded to a plus-9 on a season in which the Flames finished with a 26-41-15 record and did not make the playoffs.

Albelin's scoring disappeared in the 1998-99 season. He scored just one goal on 54 shots, and only added five assists for six points over 60 games. He also registered eight penalty minutes and stayed continued to have a positive rating, finishing a plus-11. The Flames had a 30-40-12 record that season, and once again, did not make the playoffs.

In 1999-00, Albelin's scoring improved. Though he just played 41 games, he improved to four goals on just 37 shots, and added six assists for 10 points. He also recorded 12 penalty minutes, but fell to a minus-3. The Flames had a 31-36-10-5 record, and once again, failed to make the playoffs.

The 2000-01 season was Albelin's final season with the Flames. He played 77 games and doubled his point total from the previous season with one goal, albeit on 69 shots, and 19 assists for a total of 20. He also registered 22 penalty minutes and got back in the plus column with a plus-2 rating. The Flames finished with a 27-36-15-4 record, and once again did not make the playoffs.

Albelin left the Flames after that season, and re-signed with the Devils as a free agent. He finished his career in New Jersey, playing an additional four seasons for the Devils and retiring from hockey following the 2005-06 season with a total of 952 NHL games played. He joined the Devils as an assistant coach, and is still with the organization today as an AHL assistant coach.

All-Time Statline: 339 games, 12 goals, 59 assists, minus-10 rating, 92 penalty minutes, 15.96 point shares.

64. Cory Sarich

Sarich, born on August 16th, 1978 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was a 6'4", 204 lb. defenceman. He played 66 games for the WHL's Saskatoon Blades before being drafted in the second round, 27th overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. He returned to the WHL for another two seasons, splitting time between the Blades and Seattle Thunderbirds, before graduating to the professional ranks in 1998-99. Sarich spent two seasons playing for both the Sabres and their AHL affiliate Rochester Americans before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning towards the end of the 1999-00 season. With Tampa, he played 490 NHL games over seven seasons, scoring 85 points, amassing 554 penalty minutes, and finishing an overall minus-43, as well as winning the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Following the 2006-07 season Sarich, an unrestricted free agent, immediately signed a five-year contract with the Flames. His first season in Calgary, 2007-08, saw him score two goals on 57 shots. He also had five assists for a total of seven points, and finished a plus-2. However, he really introduced himself with his physical play, recording a career-high 135 penalty minutes. The Flames finished the season with a 42-30-10 record, making the playoffs, but falling to the San Jose Sharks in seven games in the first round. Sarich played all seven games, scoring an assist, registering four penalty minutes, and once again announcing his presence in the series with this hit:

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Sarich returned to help the Flames in 2008-09, once again displaying his physicality. He once again scored two goals on 57 shots, but improved his scoring with 18 assists, for a total of 20 points over 76 games. He improved to a plus-12, and once again posted an impressive penalty rate, amassing 112 minutes. The Flames finished the season with a 46-30-6 record and were once again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, this time by the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. Sarich played in five of the games, again scoring just an assist and four penalty minutes.

In 2009-10, Sarich played 57 games for the Flames, scoring one goal on 46 shots and registering five assists for a total of six points. He registered 58 penalty minutes and finished a plus-4 while the Flames finished with a 40-32-10 record, and missed the playoffs.

The 2010-11 season saw Sarich rebound to 76 games, scoring four goals - the second highest in his career - on 75 shots, as well as recording 13 assists for 17 total points. He had a plus-11 record and finished the season with 75 penalty minutes. The Flames had a 41-29-12 record and, again, missed the playoffs.

Sarich's production fell from the previous season. In 2011-12, he scored one goal on 36 shots, and added six assists for a total of seven points over 62 games. He finished just a plus-one, and had 66 penalty minutes. A 37-29-16 record once again saw the Flames out of the playoffs, and despite a lacking season, Sarich was re-signed to a two-year contract.

Sarich's final season with the Flames saw very little. In half a lockout season, Sarich only played 28 games, scoring just two assists, 16 penalty minutes, and finishing a minus-8. The Flames had a 19-25-4 record and, once again, were out of the playoffs. Following the season he, along with Alex Tanguay, were traded to the Colorado Avalanche for David Jones and Shane O'Brien.

Sarich played the 2013-14 season with Colorado, and following that season, become an unrestricted free agent. The now-35-year-old was involved in a cycling crash over the off-season, and still has yet to be sign a new contract.

All-Time Statline: 379 games, 10 goals, 49 assists, plus-22 rating, 462 penalty minutes, 16.07 point shares.