Oh #39, what a tangled web we weave. At one end of the spectrum you invoke good time memories of a Stanley Cup and promise. And at the other end of the spectrum you bring up memories of the worst trade in Calgary Flames history and probably one of the worst trades ever in the NHL. We present to you, Doug Gilmour, the best #39 in Flames history.
Doug Gilmour arrived in Calgary after five very successful and in the end, tumultuous years with the St. Louis Blues. Legal issues off the ice spurred the end of his run in St. Louis and in September of 1988 Gilmour was traded to Calgary.
His impact on the Flames was immediate as he had an outstanding season on an already loaded Flames team. Gilmour would play in 80 regular season games, tallying 26 goals and handing out 59 assists. The 85 points were the third highest total of his career and he would finish tied for second on the team with Hakan Loob in points behind Joe Mullen’s 110.
His playoff performance was absolutely out of this world as well. During Calgary’s march to the Cup, Gilmour would play in 22 games, score a balanced 11 goals and collect 11 assists. He’s also known for scoring Calgary’s third goal in Game 6 in the finals against Montreal, which turned out to be the GWG, handing the Flames their first and only Stanley Cup. That 22 point outburst was good for third on the Flames in scoring during the 1988-89 post season as well.
Despite winning a Stanley Cup and having the type of season he had in his first year with Calgary, his sophomore campaign, numbers wise was even better. Gilmour would play in 78 games during the 1989-90 season, scoring 24 times and handing out 67 assists with that 91 points being second best on the team. However, the promise and success of the prior season as team could not be matched. The Flames would lose to the Kings in six games during the playoffs and be a one and done. Gilmour would play well in that series, collecting four points over the six games (3G-1A).
As the 1990-91 season was getting started the Flames were looking to rebound and get back to glory and Doug Gilmour did his part for sure. The centre would play in another 78 games, his third straight season on 70+ appearances for Calgary and collect 81 points, making it the fourth straight season he’d pass the 80 point marker in a row. Despite all that regular season success the Flames, once again, we a disappointment in the playoffs, losing to the Edmonton Oilers in seven games. Gilmour was a non factor in that series, playing in all seven contests, but only collecting one goal and one assist.
At this point in Doug Gilmour’s career with the Flames things were already ugly off the ice. Gilmour and the Flames were in a contract dispute, which would come to define a lot of issues between the Flames and their big names in the coming years. Small market versus big names and big money would not end well for the Flames in the coming years and Doug Gilmour would be the poster boy for that scenario in Calgary. With no solution to his contract demands and some accusations made by Gilmour against the league and the Flames, after only 38 regular season games one of Calgary’s best players walked out on the team on New Year’s Eve, 1992. On New Year’s Day, less than 24 hours after scoring the GWG in overtime against the Canadiens, Dough Gilmour was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 10 player trade, which is still a league record to this day. The Flames would send Doug Gilmour, Ric Nattress, Jamie Macoun, Kent Manderville and Rick Wamsley to Toronto in exchange for Gary Leeman, Craig Berube, Michel Petit, Alexander Godynyuk and back up goalie Jeff Reese. Thus completing the absolute worst trade in NHL and maybe sports history. Toronto, clearly with the upper hand and knowing the Flames had to deal Gilmour fleeced the Flames and it’s still a sore spot with Flames fans to this day.
After the trade, Gilmour would breathe life into a floundering Maple Leafs franchise, playing for seven seasons there before making stops with the NJ Devils, Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and finally one last season back in Toronto. Oddly enough his career would end with Toronto after only one game as Gilmour would suffer a knee injury playing against the Calgary Flames.
Doug Gilmour would play in 266 regular season games with Calgary in his four seasons there, scoring 81 goals and dishing out 214 assists. His playoff stats ended with 35 games played and 28 points compiled up over three years worth of post season trips with Calgary. He was a Selke nominee three times while with the Flames as well as a Lady Byng nominee once. Despite a short time with Calgary, he’s the Flames all time leader in assists per game at 0.80 and while his career numbers were great outside of Calgary, his only Stanley Cup Championship would be with the 1988-89 Flames.
The year 2011 was a good one for the former Flame as he was inducted into both the Hockey Hall Of Fame and the Ontario Hall Of Fame. He and former Flames teammate Paul Ranheim hold the NHL record for the two fastest short handed goals scored, which they accomplished in 1989 against the Quebec Nordiques. They were scored four seconds apart.
After his career Doug Gilmour dabbled in coaching and team management. He would coach the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) from 2008-11, taking over as the team’s GM until 2017 when he would leave to become team president until 2019. He is currently works with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a community representative.
Other Players Having Worn #39 In Flames History
Brian Skrudland (1993), Dan Keczmer (1994-96), Eric Charron (1998), Benoit Gratton (2000-01), Ryan Christie (2002), Carsen Germyn (2006-07), T.J. Galiardi (2014), Alex Chiasson (2017), Kerby Rychel (2019), Cam Talbot (2020)
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Is Doug Gilmour the best Flames player to wear the #39?
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