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ALL-TIME ALL-STARS - LOOB

Hakan Loob is the only Swedish player to ever hit 50 goals in a single season

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

They are the best of the best in Calgary Flames history.

Over 24 days we will profile our All-Time All-Stars (listed alphabetically at each position). Make sure to check back daily to see who's getting the nod.

May 7 - Theoren Fleury (RW)

May 8 - Jarome Iginla (RW)

May 9-11 - Right-wingers

May 12-16 - Centres

May 17-21 - Left-wingers

May 22-27 - Defencemen

May 28-30 - Goaltenders

Today it's the man that was feted after every goal with a rousing 'Looooooooooooob!' chant

Sometimes, those moments you dream about your whole life almost go awry.

"Someone threw me the Cup,'' recalled Hakan Loob wistfully of his near blushes back on May 25, 1989, "and I lost my balance.

"It's pretty big, you know, and I tried to grab it and lift it over my head, like you're supposed to . . . and I slipped. For a second there . . . I caught myself just in time.

"Otherwise, I'd still be on all those blooper shows on TV."

Over a relatively small sample size, 425 regular-season games, Loob made a mighty contribution, compiling 429 points and 193 goals to the cause, helped nurture blossoming young talents such as Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts and was an instrumental part of that '89 Cup.

He's forever, the replay of him busting out of the Calgary zone, three teammates abreast, dishing the puck off to Joe Niewendyk, who zings it cross-ice to a grizzled old pro armed with a career-long quest and a luxurious moustache, and …

Well, you know the rest.

Small in stature but generous in spirit and proudly tough-minded, the small but sturdy Swede changed the way many narrow-minded North Americans viewed imports from his country.

Opening his NHL account with 30 goals in a 55-point freshman campaign, Loob was selected to the NHL's Rookie All-Star Team.

"At that time, a lot of people still had Swedes stereotyped as soft," praised left-winger Colin Patterson. "Loober broke that mould. He was tough. He did go into the corners. He wouldn't take any crap.

"A great player and a better person."

The chant - "Looooooooooooooob!" - became a familiar cry, reverberating around the nooks and crannies of the Saddledome. 

"I didn't realize myself what was going on at first,'' he joked. "Then I heard that, with names like that, that's what they do. I didn't think they were booing me, but you always looked around to see what was happening in the rink, if somebody was dropping a hot dog on someone's head. It was great."

In '87-88, as the Flames claimed their first of back-to-back Presidents' Trophies, the franchise's first great No. 12 enjoyed a season for the ages, 50 goals, 106 points and a first All-Star Team selection.

His touchstone 50th arrived on the season's final day, at 16:35 of the third period, in his home rink.

"Of course I remember it,'' he reminisced years later. "Against Minnesota. 3-1 with about three minutes left. Powerplay. Gary Suter coming down the left. Cross pass. Tap-in."

As everyone knows, Loob remains - all these years later - the only player from his homeland to reach the magical 50 mark.

He's a member in good standing of the exclusive Triple Gold Club, reserved for Stanley Cup, Olympic and World Championship winners.

When Loob, a ninth-round (181st-overall) draft selection in 1980, arrived to begin his quest three years later, Al Coates was the one to fetch him at Calgary International Airport.

"He said this on the ride in, and I'll never forget this, he said: 'I'll play here five or six years and then I'm going home','' mused Coates. "He felt it was important to play here but also for his family to be home.

"And I'm thinking: 'Well, he'll change his mind …'

Of course, he didn't.

But not without leaving behind a trunkful of memories, a chant to remember, and a Stanley Cup for the ages.

In this case, quality over quantity.

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