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ALL-TIME ALL-STARS - TANGUAY

Alex Tanguay was one of the best playmakers to don the Flaming C

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 8 - Theoren Fleury (RW)

May 9 - Jarome Iginla (RW)

May 10 - Hakan Loob (RW)

May 11 - Lanny McDonald (RW)

May 12 - Joey Mullen (RW)

May 13 - Doug Gilmour (C)

May 14 - Joe Nieuwendyk (C)

May 15 - Kent Nilsson (C)

May 16 - Joel Otto (C)

May 17 - Craig Conroy (C)

May 18 - Johnny Gaudreau (LW)

May 19 - Jim Peplinski (LW)

May 20 - Gary Roberts (LW)

May 21-22 - Left-wingers

May 23-28 - Defencemen

May 29-31 - Goaltenders

Today, it's Alex Tanguay, one of the best pure playmakers the Flames have ever had on their roster:

Few in this town had the innate ability to set a table with as much style as Alex Tanguay.

He could toss the tablecloth inch-perfect, set out the silverware and ring the dinner gong, all with one quick incisive pass.

"I haven't seen too many better than Tangs,'' confessed former Calgary Flames boss Brent Sutter, who, remember, spent a few golden years watching Bryan Trottier choreograph Mike Bossy's habitual 50-goal seasons on Long Island.

"Some guys are born playmakers. They just . . . know. Smart players. Have a sense where their linemates are. They know how to manage the puck, the timing in the game, knowing when to pass, when not to.

"It all relates back to hockey sense. He's patient. He gets the puck, it's not a rush play. What he does, he draws people to him and then makes the play.

"That's why he creates opportunities for shooters around him.

"It's a skill. You can't teach it.

"It's a God-given gift.'"

Tanguay's partnership with captain Jarome Iginla, among the purest gunners of a generation, benefited both men during their run together at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

What was good for Jarome, after all, was good for the Flames. And Tanguay's unerring way with a pass was awfully good for Jarome.

"Being on the ice with Jarome feels the same as with Peter or Joe,'' reasons Tanguay, a Stanley Cup winner in Colorado alongside Forsberg and Sakic back in 2001.

Quite the heady compliment.

In selecting the franchise's all-time top port-siders, Tim Hunter's commitment to standing up for the air of the party (2,405 PIM), his competitive contributions in both overtaking the swaggering Edmonton Oilers and finally climbing atop the Stanley Cup summit cannot be overemphasized.

With a couple more seasons to match the opening two of a meteoric start to his career, the artistic yet abrasive Matthew Tkachuk, still a mere moppet, will doubtless be a slam-dunk all-time selection on the left side.

But Tanguay gets the nod for now on the strength of an uncanny ability to GPS the puck, at his most sublime moments rivalling the finest distributors ever to don the Flaming C - Kent Nilsson, Doug Gilmour, Guy Chouinard, et al.

In four of his five years here, spread over two stops (2006 through 2008, 2010 through 2013), Tanguay finished among the team's top three scorers, twice topping the charts in helpers.

An inordinate amount of Tanguay's assists, of course, paying off in Iginla red-light snipes.

 "It was instant chemistry," back-up goaltender Jamie McLellan said of the collaboration. "Alex Tanguay is one of the most underrated passers in the league, and Jarome is a shooter. 

"We used to bug Tangs that he would be on a breakaway, and he'd still be looking for Jarome to pass it to him."

For purity of passing line, not many hereabouts have proven his equal.

Tanguay's assist aggregate of 59 in 2006-2007 stood up as the most in a over a decade, until a magician of a later vintage, Johnny Gaudreau, connected for 60 this past season.

"Since I was a kid," Tanguay confessed, "to me hockey is like an art form. You want to do the nice pictures. And certainly find ways to keep the puck and do things with the puck. That's how I was bred."

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