On Tuesday night Johnny Gaudreau told the Flames that he was not returning to the team and was going to test free agency. Take a deep breath and we'll talk in a second.........good now? Ok.
Yes, this isn't the outcome Flames fans and management wanted, but it is what it is. If all reports are correct the Flames had around $80 million dollars on the table for Gaudreau, but the draw of "home" appeared to be too much for the Flames winger. And you know what, that's fine. Johnny Gaudreau is married. He has a baby on the way and today he made a decision that was best for himself and his family. It's rare that an athlete chooses something other than money when it comes to a contract, but Gaudreau did just that. The Flames and Gaudreau's agent all said everything possible was done to keep him in Calgary, but Johnny Gaudreau decided it was time to end his run with the Flames.
"I firmly believe there's nothing more we could have done. We respect it ... I think this was a real hard decision for John ...I think everybody operated with the right intentions."— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 13, 2022
Gaudreau agent Lewis Gross: "The Flames did everything they could. This came down to a family decision."— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 13, 2022
And there you have it. The greatest #13 and 4th round pick in Flames history is packing his bags and heading somewhere else. Where will that be, who knows. The Flyers, Islanders and Devils are all teams that have been tossed around in the last few weeks when the negotiations between the Flames and Gaudreau were going nowhere. I'm guessing it won't be long before we see where he signs and yes, it will certainly hurt, but this is where you need to remember sports is a BUSINESS. The sooner you accept that, the easier these things become.
What happens next for the Flames is very important. Is it adding a top free agent to "fill" his role, extended Matthew Tkachuk, sign Oliver Kylington and Andrew Mangiapane and forge ahead? Or do they find a team willing to deal for Tkachuk, ship out some veteran contracts and start a massive rebuild? Either of these scenarios make perfect sense for the team and the first one certainly depends on what Matthew Tkachuk wants to do with his future.
When the dust finally settles the Calgary Flames lost out on one of their best players of all time. For a fourth round pick, the Flames got more then you could imagine from a player from that section of the draft. Gaudreau finished his career with 602 games played in Calgary, 210 goals and 399 assists. He's 9th in career goals with the Flames and 5th in points and assists. Despite what's swirling around in your head right now, Gaudreau IS one of the greatest Calgary Flames players of all time. The worst part of this is you can add him to the list of great Flames players who deserved to be Flames players for their entire NHL career, but ended up leaving in their prime.
In closing, don't be this fan: when he makes his first appearance in a different uniform at the Saddledome, don't "boo" him. He's done enough for the city and franchise that he deserves a long standing ovation and a tear inducing tribute video upon his return. Plain and simple.
Johnny Gaudreau, thank you. Thank you for eight exciting seasons with the Flames and this writer wishes you NOTHING, but success in your future endeavors. July 12, 2022 will go down as a dark day in Flames History. Just add it to the pile of bad days in this franchise's history.