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2014-15 Flames report cards: Jiri Hudler

Today is a special day. Not only is it Jiri Hudler's report card day, but it's also Father's Day. We can't think of anyone who embodies the fatherly spirit more than Sean and Johnny's dad.

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

When Jiri Hudler was signed back in July of 2012, it turned a lot of heads. Mostly for the $4M for four years contract, as at the time, it seemed to not address some more prominent issues with the team. Regardless, it didn't take long for me to admire and really appreciate the type of skill Hudler has: something that is echoed repeatedly among Red Wings fans, writers, and folks close to Detroit.

What stands out more than anything is his elevated role each and every season since coming to Calgary. Within that is a nurturing father figure who has helped transition a number of the rookies on the team into regular members, and helped develop their skills at a pro-level. We saw the effects of what Hudler could bring to Sean Monahan's game briefly last season making a noticeable difference.

This season? It was with Sean and Calder nominee Johnny Gaudreau. The trio became one of the most effective lines in the latter half of the season. The newly formed top line of the Calgary Flames was led by Hudler's calm but excited demeanor of enjoying playing with "the kids". Prior to that, you could see earlier in the season the impact of his play on Josh Jooris, as well as Markus Granlund. His appreciation for playing with and mentoring the kids has been incredibly crucial these past two seasons.

His offensive instincts and playmaking abilities allowed his sons to set some miraculous numbers. But not only that, Hudler set career marks this year with 31 goals and 45 assists. Combine that with eight points in 11 playoff games, and he was the team's leading scorer. Away from the standard stats, he is a driver of play for the team and a large chunk of the offense generated this season happened with him on the ice. All of this great play and sportsmanship earned him a nomination for the Lady Byng this year.

Happy Father's Day, Papa Hudler you had one hell of a season:

arii (A):

Jiri Hudler had a career season. It was completely unexpected, but he did it, and he looked outstanding all the while. He mentored a couple of 20-year-olds, and was the effective elder statesman on the best line in hockey for the month of March. Hudler is one of those guys that, while he would probably fetch a lot on the trade market - especially now (remember when the Czechs decided he wasn’t Olympic-worthy? Wow) - he might even have more value to the current team. While he may never hit 30 goals or 70 points again, it’s may be worth holding onto him, because he brings a lot both on and off the ice.

You really couldn’t ask for more from Hudler this past season. He’s always been talented, but this was unprecedented for him. What a tremendous season, and he officially became a key part of this team.

Mike FAIL (A):

Jiri Hudler is Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau’s father. The family we are watching on the ice, growing in front of us is a beautiful thing. Papa Hudler took the young boys under his wing and they scored lots of points together. What’s even more impressive is the crime solving abilities they possess. I’ve heard they have solved a number of unsolvable crimes in the Calgary-area so kudos to them.

The dude had a career year playing some of his best hockey and his impact on helping rookies is immeasurable. That is to say that he isn’t untouchable if a trade presented itself, it’s just a cautionary tale of, "He is 30, he had a career year. Maybe it’s worthwhile to explore trading him while his value is at its peak."

HockeyGoalieEh (A+):

Hudler was absolutely astounding this season as he led the Flames in scoring and finished eighth in the league. He was probably the best Flame this entire season and Calgary would have certainly missed the playoffs without his contributions. He scored at almost a point per game and contributed both at even strength and on the power play, and did so next to a rookie and a sophomore player.

His work on the power play was magnified by the fact that he was responsible for many of those opportunities. Hudler and Gaudreau avoided the penalty box like it was hot lava and were a large part of the Flames’ league-leading penalty differential. Along with Monahan, they should prove to be a magic trio once again next year.

saltysyd (A):

Papa Hudler had an amazing season. Not only did he put up career numbers, but he had an unbelievable influence on the younger players *cough*sons-Johnny-and-Mony*cough*. He was the steady pillar on one of the most exciting top lines in the NHL this season. Going into the playoffs, he was the only one on the line with any playoff experience, and he killed it. The mark he made on this season will not be forgotten, and his leadership on the team was fascinating.

All praise be unto Papa Huds!

ctibs (A+):

There’s not that much to say about a guy who had a career year. Hudler was simply excellent, and was often the most consistent on the top line. While he was always a solid scorer, he seemed to have found a younger version of himself, moving and scoring like he had the same youth his linemates did. Keep it going, Papa Hudler.

LiamPMcCausland (A+):

How do you describe a career year for a guy who was always steady in scoring? He’s been a great influence on the team, a great influence on his linemates, and has just been great. Great stuff.

cofstats (A):

Jiri Hudler was Calgary’s most important forward. His decade-long NHL experience, most of it spent with the organizational masterpiece that is the Detroit Red Wings, is precisely what the young Flames needed to show them what it takes in the NHL. And he certainly showed them.

At 31 years old Hudler had a career year, putting up 76 points in 78 games and finishing eighth in league scoring at 5v5. Gaudreau and Monahan would not have had the years they did, and the Flames would not have made the playoffs, if it weren’t for Jiri Hudler.

I think it's really clear how we feel and the A average is completely justified. Next season is the final year of his four year contract, will he stay or will he go? Hopefully he continues to put up great numbers as the youth around him grows. This season it's fair to say he became irreplaceable in the lineup and the Flames benefited from having him.

Seriously, look at this happy little family: