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Old 07-11-2017, 04:33 AM   #1
ToewsFan
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Default Calgary Flames 1981 Playoff Run

I always find this fascinating, considering the Flames were in their first season in Calgary, after the relocation from Atlanta. The Flames were in the Patrick Division, and ended up finishing #7 Overall (39-27-14), and could not have possibly been considered to go deep in the playoffs. This was back when the NHL instituted a #1-16 playoff format, where the best team would play the worst team, regardless of geographic location, Division, or Conference.

I cannot find any type of video footage about the Flames improbable run, and their upset victory against the heavily favored Philadelphia Flyers or their hard fought battle with the Minnesota North Stars. This was all before my time, but this was during Kent Nilsson's best season ever. Does anyone remember this series, or can provide a first hand account of what it was like to make a deep playoff run less than a year after the city of Calgary acquiring an NHL franchise?
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Old 07-11-2017, 06:46 AM   #2
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The Flames 10 greatest games DVD set has game 7 against Philadelphia.
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Old 07-11-2017, 06:47 AM   #3
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https://www.amazon.ca/NHL-Calgary-Fl.../dp/B002DY9KU2
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:26 AM   #4
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Yup I remember watching that whole playoff run, nobody expected the Flames to beat the Flyers. And they did. Pat Riggins was unbelievable in the playoffs and completely unorthodox.

I remember that Dino Ciccarelli was a rookie on that North Stars team and was unbelievable.

I also remember that Kent Nilson the magic man became a bit of a legend that year. I also remember going to a playoff game against Chicago in the first round at the Corral. And Nilson got taken off of the ice after a dirty check and the crowd went dead, then in the third period he vaulted over those tall boards and the crowd went freaking nuts.

I also remember that the next year the team completely fell apart, and the only positive is that we got Lanny.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Yup I remember watching that whole playoff run, nobody expected the Flames to beat the Flyers. And they did. Pat Riggins was unbelievable in the playoffs and completely unorthodox.

I remember that Dino Ciccarelli was a rookie on that North Stars team and was unbelievable.

I also remember that Kent Nilson the magic man became a bit of a legend that year. I also remember going to a playoff game against Chicago in the first round at the Corral. And Nilson got taken off of the ice after a dirty check and the crowd went dead, then in the third period he vaulted over those tall boards and the crowd went freaking nuts.

I also remember that the next year the team completely fell apart, and the only positive is that we got Lanny.
I was pretty young, but I remember the dread of a playoff series because Atlanta had never won one in their 8 years in Georgia ... made the sweep in the first round pretty fun. Clinching the sweep on a Willi Plett slapper from center ice past Tony Esposito was hilarious.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:40 AM   #6
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I was so happy that the flames beat the Hawks. But lets be honest, before the Flames came to Calgary the Broad Street Bullies were my team, and I was about 13 at the time, running around the school telling my friends that the Flames were nice and all, but the Flyers were going to run them out of the rink . . . doh.

I honestly thought that they would beat the Stars. The Flames just felt like a team of destiny at that point even though there was no way that the Flames were going to beat the Islanders.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:53 AM   #7
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I recall listening to all those games as a youngster in my parents unfinished basement, recreating every goal on my street hockey net downstairs and making a mess of my dads workbench/tools. Good times.

Might have to listen to some kool and the gang (celebration) to finish off this vivid memory.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bingo View Post
I was pretty young, but I remember the dread of a playoff series because Atlanta had never won one in their 8 years in Georgia ... made the sweep in the first round pretty fun. Clinching the sweep on a Willi Plett slapper from center ice past Tony Esposito was hilarious.
It wasn't even really a rocket of a shot - just a half slap IIRC. It was, to be fair to Tony E, a kind of sneaky shot. Plett had a lot of skill for a guy with his PMs.

ETA: I completely forgot they got into the POs in an Eastern division (Patrick). Though, to be fair, their points would have put them in second in the Smythe.

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Old 07-11-2017, 10:02 AM   #9
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I was so happy that the flames beat the Hawks. But lets be honest, before the Flames came to Calgary the Broad Street Bullies were my team, and I was about 13 at the time, running around the school telling my friends that the Flames were nice and all, but the Flyers were going to run them out of the rink . . . doh.

I honestly thought that they would beat the Stars. The Flames just felt like a team of destiny at that point even though there was no way that the Flames were going to beat the Islanders.
Yeah as I recall they even had home ice against the Stars. As you say, we knew they wouldn't beat the Islanders.

As a kid, I guess I thought playoff success for Flames would be easy. Boy did I learn that lesson.
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:15 AM   #10
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I remember an interview that Bill Clement did where a lot of the guys on the team really were not happy with the team relocating to Calgary. Many guys had wives/girlfriends from the Atlanta area who had no interest in coming to an outpost like Calgary. At the time Calgary was a lot rougher than it is today. But compared to Atlanta it was really small, really expensive, and really cold.

One of the results was that the guys actually were able to keep pretty focused on hockey the first season. But I think by year two, many of the Atlanta hold overs wanted to be moved elsewhere, and Fletcher was somewhat forced to reshape the team into the Calgary Flames as opposed to continuing on the Atlanta Flames.

This is about one year before my time as I remember the 82 games against Vancouver vaguely.
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:16 AM   #11
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Sad trivia fact, I remember I had to take my dog out for a walk every night, a big Rhodesian Ridgeback that we had raised from a puppy and he probably weighed about 100 pounds of all muscle. He was a great dog but when he decided it was time to take his master for a walk or drag, it was time. Also the walk ended when he decided to end it.

Anyways I remember walking him at night listening to the Flames playoff game on my watch/radio/calculator that had a mono headset, and could only pick up AM radio and only if you weren't around any kind of shrubbery.

Those were great nights when Peter was still young.
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:23 AM   #12
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I have pretty vague memories of that year, but one of them was hating Dino Ciccarelli.

Just looked it up and he had 14 goals/21 points in 19 games that year so that's probably the reason. I remember the crowd chanting his name.

I was young enough to think it was weird that he was named after Dino from the Flintstones.
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:33 AM   #13
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I really remember that at one of the home games, Dino lit up the Flames pretty hard and he was named first star. He was skating back to his bench and some fan had hung a stuffed on a stick and was hanging it over the glass, and Dino skated by with the big poop eating grin and stole the dinosaur.

I also remember that there was a great picture after the game six loss of Pat Riggin sitting alone in the dressing room drinking a coke and looking completely crushed. We weren't used to NHL hockey coverage at the time so it was a amazing picture.
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:56 AM   #14
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Wasn't the guy who really killed against Calgary Steve Payne? He had a knack of beating Calgary goalies with an outside slapper.
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Old 07-11-2017, 12:03 PM   #15
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After the Flames beat the Flyers in game 7, my buddy and I went to the airport to greet them. We were both in elementary school and spent the morning making a banner out of a bed sheet stapled to two hockey sticks.

We got autographs from most of the players. Willie Plett just walked by and refused, though.

This was the year that Calgary fell in love with the Flames.
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Old 07-11-2017, 01:26 PM   #16
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Wish I had been old enouogh (and in Calgary) to appreciate the significance of that run. Must have been a shot in the arm for Calgary.
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:14 PM   #17
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How crazy would it have been if they made the finals, playing in a 7,000 seat arena.
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:37 PM   #18
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http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1101549

CTV had a brief feature on the North Stars series back in April. Love the old clips. They're so rare!
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Old 07-11-2017, 03:58 PM   #19
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Here's an old Hello Calgary commercial from that year ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3UC57CIh7c

A future site owner is the kid in the brown jacket
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Old 07-11-2017, 04:32 PM   #20
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Here's an old Hello Calgary commercial from that year ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3UC57CIh7c

A future site owner is the kid in the brown jacket
Can I have your autograph?
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