The Calgary Flames as comprised have a very bright future. But regardless of the accomplishments of Flames teams going forward, the greatest team to ever wear the ‘Flaming C’ will always likely be considered the team that won the organization’s first Stanley Cup in 1989.
The 20th anniversary of the Flames' Stanley Cup win occurred this week, and it coincided with the annual Alumni Masters Golf Tournament. In an interview with calgaryflames.com, Terry Crisp, head coach of the Cup-winning team, reflected on the milestone.
“It was a great memory that is cherished by the people involved in it, and that’s the way it’s going to stay, a great memory,” said Crisp, for whom two decades has flown.
“It’s probably the fastest twenty years that went by.”
Currently working as a broadcaster for the Nashville Predators, Crisp travels throughout the league and has the opportunity to reunite with many of the alumni from 1989 as nine of the alumni from the champion team are involved in various capacities with NHL teams. According to Crisp, recognition of their special achievement often goes unspoken.
“You meet a lot of guys in the rinks who are still involved, and yet we hardly ever talk about winning the Cup. We talk about the great season, the fun we had, what a deep team we had,” said Crisp. “They know what they did together and don’t talk a whole lot about it.”
For those involved, the run to the Cup happened so quickly that it was difficult to enjoy the ride. Crisp, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and ’75, remembered the words his coach at the time, Fred Shero, shared after they won the first championship.
“The first time I won the Cup as a player in 1974 with the Philadelphia Flyers, coach Fred Shero said: ‘Congratulations gentlemen, you will not realize until ten years down the road what you’ve accomplished tonight,’ and that’s the gospel truth,” said Crisp.
Unfortunately, the Cup-winning Flames team could not manage a repeat performance despite their dearth of talent, but the Stanley Cup may be the hardest trophy in all of professional sports to win, and for that reason Crisp feels players fortunate enough to drink from Lord Stanley’s mug should be sure and savour the taste.
“It just goes to show you, cherish it, cherish the moment, because you may never get another crack at one.”
Crisp and his wife Sheila still have deep roots in the city that loves them. They are not only fixtures at the annual Alumni Masters tournament, which has raised millions of dollars for charity in its 15-year existence, but the majority of their family call Calgary home.
“Our children and grandchildren all live in Calgary, so we come back each year to visit. We enjoy renewing old acquaintances every time we come. We have just as many friends outside the hockey world as we do in the hockey world.”
Along with friends and family, Crisp also has his fair share of fans around the city. Twenty years may have passed since the historic win, but Flames fans still recognize and acknowledge the coach.
“Surprisingly they still do. We still get a lot of good positive response, but keep in mind, that’s mostly from grandparents,” joked Crisp, who admitted he particularly enjoys hearing from those who remember the Cup win as a part of their childhood.
“The greatest thing is when I meet the youngsters, and they say ‘Oh I was six, I remember,’ or ‘I was 10, my parents took me to the parade.’ It’s special that they all have their memories as kids of where they were in 1989 when we won the Cup.”
Crisp still carries the sunny disposition and affable personality that won over the city two decades ago, and he is grateful to have been a significant part of that era of Flames history, and the memories that are indelible for those who were around to experience it.
“The red hair is gone, the grey has replaced it. The weight has shifted around and gained in a few places where it shouldn’t, but (Calgarians) still remember, and they still say ‘Thank you for being a part of the group that brought the Cup to Calgary.’”