There's a record in Calgary that has been skipping since Joe Nieuwendyk was traded to the Dallas Stars in 1995.
We need a number one center.....we need a number one center...we need a number one center. It's like the unofficial anthem of the Flames. If an anthem does ever get written it will be something like,"Star Spangled Center" or "O'centermen" or "God save our centerman".
The Flames go through Centers like Philly goes through Goalies, like New York spends money, like Edmonton fans go through teeth. (AHHH just kidding Edmonton fans...)
Here's a list of some of the "number one" centers Calgary has been subject to:
Dave Gagner- Not a bad player I have to say but no Joe Thornton either.
Andrew Cassels/Jeff Shantz for a couple years- Cassels-Again a good player but nothing flashy, had a career high 22 goals in Hartford... not exactly Crosby. Shantz-Arguably the worst center to ever patrol the top line.
Marc Savard- This guy was special, at the age of 23 and 24 was putting up 31-42 assists with the Flames and had chemistry with Iginla which is very rare. Was traded when he didn't get along with coach Gilbert for a Russian who never played and then Gilbert was fired... so goodbye G.M.
Craig Conroy- A player who was more known for his defensive play suddenly was awesome- 75 points in his first full year with Iggy, taking a dip the following year with 59 points...and another dip to 44 points and another year at 46... you get the idea, Conroy was/is a decent player who had a couple good season playing with an elite scorer but I don't believe he made Iggy better.
Daymond Langkow- Langkow has a good skill set, great hand/eye, gritty, decent speed, great defensive play but a number 1 center? His 77 points in 06/07 was followed by 65 points which was followed by 49, followed by 37...see the trend?
Matt Stajan- 57 points last year, mostly with Toronto and seriously this is not a number one center.
* Note Jokinen never played a full season here but I guess should be included in the list as he did play on the top line. Stillman was listed as a center but almost never played that position here.
SO... Taking a look at the lost above I see one guy, Marc Savard, who I would consider a number one guy. An elite passer who can score and take faceoffs is, by definition, your number one center. The Sutter era has seen three defensive forwards be the top line guy in Langkow, Conroy and Stajan (sans Jokinen) who have some offensive upside and perhaps this is where the mind set could use a little changing. Right now the Flames Center ice looks like:
Higgins, Conroy, Nystrom and Sutter are all free agents without contracts as of today so I can not list them as part of the team. Not exactly Crosby, Malkin, Staal or Briere, Carter, Richards is it? It takes center skill and lots of it to get to the finals these days and the Flames are still lacking and the record will keep skipping:
We need a number one center...we need a number one center....