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Flames All-Time Countdown Chapter CXIII: 48-47

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Two right wingers, tough guy Willi Plett and scoring threat Rene Bourque.

Frederick Breedon

48. Willi Plett

Plett was a 6’3", 205 lb. right winger from Asuncion, Paraguay. Born on June 7th, 1955, he played two seasons with the Niagra Falls Flyers in the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League in the early 70’s. The Flames selected him in the fifth round of the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft with the 80th overall pick.

Plett played most of the 1975-76 season in the CHL with the Tulsa Oilers, scoring 30 goals with 20 assists and 163 penalty minutes in 73 games. He also got his first look at the NHL level, appearing in four games with the Flames near the end of the season.

Aside from 14 games near the beginning of the 1976-77 season (Tulsa, eight goals, four assists, 68 PiM), Plett was done with the minor leagues. He played in 64 games, but still managed to lead the team with 33 goals (on only 156 shots, for an unreal 21.2% shooting success rate). He pitched in 23 assists, a team second-best plus-15 rating, an NHL-seventh six game winning goals, and a team leading 123 penalty minutes. Using the point share statistic as the metric for good vs. bad seasons, his rookie year would be his best with a 6.1. For his efforts, he won the 1977 Calder Memorial Trophy, the award annually presented to the best rookie in the NHL. The team posted a 34-34-12 record, losing the best-of-three opening round series to the Los Angeles Kings in the postseason. Plett scored a goal and led the team with 19 penalty minutes.

In 1977-78, Plett came down to earth a little bit, tying for fourth on the club with 22 goals on 191 shots. He earned 21 assists, a minus-6 rating, and again led the team with 171 penalty minutes. The Flames finished with their best record yet, earning 87 points with a 34-27-19 record, but lost the opening series to the Detroit Red Wings in two straight. Plett didn’t appear in the postseason.

Plett scored 23 goals on 164 shots in 1978-79, earning 20 assists and a plus-13 rating, along with a team leading and NHL fifth 213 penalty minutes. The Flames posted a 41-31-8 record, earning 90 points on their way to a fourth place finish in the NHL’s Patrick Division, then lost in two straight games in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Plett had a goal and 29 penalty minutes in the short series.

In 1979-80, Plett regressed further, appearing in 76 games but scoring only 13 goals on 119 shots with 19 assists. He earned a minus-4 rating and led the team with an NHL-seventh 231 penalty minutes. Atlanta went 35-32-13 on the season, and again made the playoffs. The New York Rangers made short work of the Flames, winning the series three-games-to-one. Plett had a goal and 15 penalty minutes in the four contests.

Plett would experience a career resurgence for the Flames first season in Calgary in 1980-81, scoring a career high 38 goals on 159 shots (an NHL fourth 23.9% shooting success rate). He pitched in with 30 assists, a plus-5 rating, and again led the Flames in penalty minutes, with an NHL-fifth 239 to his credit. He ranked third on the team with his 68 points. Calgary was in for a treat, as the Flames posted a then-franchise best 39-27-14 record, finishing third in the Patrick Division. They then finally won a playoff series, claiming two in fact. They defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in three straight, then took their time in eliminating the Philadelphia Flyers in seven before losing in six to the Minnesota North Stars. Plett appeared in every game but one, leading the club with eight goals and with 89 penalty minutes. He also pitched in with four assists.

1981-82 would mark Plett’s last season with the Flames. In 78 contests, he lit the lamp 21 times on 152 shots with 36 helpers, a team-worst minus-22 rating, and a team best and NHL-sixth 288 penalty minutes. Plett led the Flames in penalty minutes in each of his six full seasons with the franchise. Calgary regressed to finish at 29-34-17, but still made the playoffs. They lost in three straight games to the Vancouver Canucks. Plett had a goal and two assists with an impressive 39 penalty minutes.

During the 1982 offseason, the Flames traded Plett to the North Stars with a fourth round pick (Dusan Pasek) for Steve Christoff, Bill Nyrop, and a second round pick (Dave Reierson). Plett played five seasons with Minnesota (317 games, 70 goals, 63 assists, 1137 PiM) before closing out his career with the Boston Bruins in 1987-88 (65 games, two goals, three assists, 170 PiM). He currently runs a golf course and theme park in Woodstock, GA.

All-Time Statline: 452 games, 150 goals, 149 assists, plus-1 rating, 1265 penalty minutes, 20.81 point shares.

47. Rene Bourque

Bourque, a 6’2", 211 lb. right winger, was born in Lac La Biche, Alberta on December 10th, 1981. After putting up 85 points and 113 penalty minutes for the AJHL’s St. Albert Saints in 1999-00, he joined the University of Wisconsin. In four seasons of collegiate hockey, he scored 57 goals with 40 assists in 152 contests. After going undrafted after graduating with the Class of 2004, he signed on with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, scoring 33 goals with 27 assists in 78 games, along with 105 penalty minutes.

Starting in 2005-06, Bourque played all but one of his professional games at the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks. In three seasons with the club, he totaled 33 markers and 42 helpers in 183 contests. During the 2008 offseason, Chicago traded him to Calgary for a second round pick (Brad Ross).

2008-09 would see Bourque rank third on the Flames with 21 goals on 149 shots, along with 19 assists, a team-second plus-18 rating, and 70 minutes in the penalty box. He played mostly second line minutes, averaging 16:05 per game over his 58 appearances. On December 27th, he had his first career hat trick, scoring three goals on seven shots in a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Calgary finished out the season at 46-30-6, earning what is still their latest playoff berth. They lost in the opening series to the Blackhawks, four-games-to-two. Bourque played in five of the games, scoring a single goal and earning a team high 22 penalty minutes.

In 2009-10, Bourque ranked second on the team with a career-high 58 points. He scored 27 goals on 215 shots along with 31 assists, a team-third plus-7 rating, and a team-second 88 penalty minutes. His 7.4 point shares ranked him fourth on the club and counted as a career high. He had his second career hat trick on December 28th, almost exactly a year after his first as the Flames set down the Edmonton Oilers, 4-1. On March 7th, he lit the lamp once and added three helpers in a 5-2 triumph over the Minnesota Wild. In total, he finished with multiple points on a dozen occasions, and averaged 18:19 per game over 73 contests. Calgary finished good but not-good-enough at 40-32-10, as the team ranked last in the league with 204 goals scored.

Bourque equalled his career high in goals again in 2010-11, lighting the lamp 27 times on 218 shots, along with 23 assists to rank fourth on the team with 50 points. He posted a team-worst minus-17 rating and spent 42 minutes in the box. He played 17:45 per night while appearing in a career high 80 games. In his fifth game of the season, on October 22nd, he earned his third hat trick and added an assist in a 6-2 romp over the Columbus Blue Jackets. On December 7th, he scored a goal and added two assists in a 4-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team went 41-29-12, closing the season short of the playoffs.

2011-12 would start with Bourque playing in 17:10 per game over 38 contests. He scored 13 times on 91 shots and added three helpers, a minus-3 rating, and 41 penalty minutes. On January 12th, the Flames traded him to the Montreal Canadiens with Patrick Holland and a second round pick (Zachary Fucale) for Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo, and a fifth round pick (Ryan Culkin). Bourque has played 128 games with the Habs, scoring 21 goals with 16 assists. He is entering the fifth year of a six-year, $20 million contract.

All-Time Statline: 249 games, 88 goals, 76 assists, plus-5 rating, 241 penalty minutes, 20.85 point shares.