The Flames celebrated the 35th anniversary of their 1989 Stanley Cup this week.

But the reunion was more than a gathering of local hockey heroes.

The group included some of the best to ever lace up skates in the NHL.

No fewer than six players from Calgary’s Stanley Cup squad are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

And two - Lanny McDonald and Mike Vernon - have their numbers permanently retired by the Flames organization.

Doug Gilmour, Joe Mullen, Al MacInnis and Joe Nieuwendyk are also Hall of Fame inductees, the latter two earning the honour after spending the bulk of their NHL careers as Flames.

Nieuwendyk, a three-time Stanley Cup champion and 2011 Hall of Fame inductee, began his career here, playing, and sitting alongside McDonald - his childhood idol.

And memories of playing alongside Lanny, and watching that #9 sail up into the rafters, remain strong to this day.

“I sure do,” he said when asked if he recalled that evening in 1990. “I remember all of Lanny’s moments up until his last goal in the Montreal Forum. For all of us, Lanny was very instrumental in our development.

“I remember my first game as a Flame was in Washington, I didn’t graduate to get a stall, I had a chair, but that chair was right beside Lanny. He kind of took me under his wing like he did all the guys, a special human.”


For McDonald, watching Nieuwendyk, MacInnis and other future Hall of Famers take flight as Flames was special.

“You look at both of them, Al at that time, when he wins the MVP in the playoffs, set the record and set the benchmark for what defencemen are supposed to do,” McDonald said Friday. “Obviously a Hall of Famer. And then you look at Nieuwy, the perfect 1 or 1A centre-ice man. He wins the Cup here, he goes to Dallas, wins the Cup, New Jersey.

“You talk about a Hall of Famer plus, those two guys are it in spades.”

The '89 Flames featured SIX Hall-of-Fame players!

Nieuwendyk played here with his childhood friend Gary Roberts for the better part of a decade.

A champion at age 22, his first Stanley Cup helped forge a path that included a Conn Smythe Trophy of his own - a decade later in Dallas.

“I think Gary and I say to this day we thought it was going to be easy, we’ll do this a few times and have a good career. Then you go 10 years without winning, I just remember and look back on what it meant to the older guys, the guys like Lanny, Peplinski, Mullen, Rob Ramage, and rest his soul Brad McCrimmon.

“Those guys, and what it meant to them was very impactful upon me as a young player, so when I went through it again a second time with Dallas, I savoured every moment and realized how hard it is to get to where you want to go.”

MacInnis played more than 800 games as a Flame, averaging north of a point-per-game, while racking up an astonishing +239 rating during his time in Calgary.

Winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as 1989 playoff MVP was a feather in the cap of an incredible accomplishment, one that he savours as he recalls championship memories in Calgary.

“If you look back now, it’s extremely special,” he said. “At the time, you’re so caught up in winning the Cup, because it was a dream since you were a kid. To add the Conn Smythe, it’s just an extra bonus.

“When you play on a team like we had, there’s always numerous guys that could have won that award, I was very fortunate that they voted me the winner.”


In 2017-18, he was named one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players.

But in 1989, MacInnis was part of a team of legends.

“We had Hall of Famers at every position,” he recalled. “I was so happy when I heard Mike Vernon’s name announced and inducted into (the Class of 2023). We’ve been friends since ’81, you look at defence, we had Hall of Famers and forwards and Joey Mullen and Lanny.

“This was an incredible team, and looking back, whatever way a team wanted to play, if they wanted to play a physical game we had all the attributes to do that. If they wanted to play a speed, skill game, we had the Nieuwendyks, the Gary Roberts, Joey Mullens, Hakan Loobs. We had all the ingredients, and credit to Cliff Fletcher and his team to put that team together.”

Fletcher, too, is an honoured Hall member, inducted following 19 years as Flames general manager.

But the most recent inductee from the 1989 roster was Vernon - whose number hangs next to McDonald’s in the Scotiabank Saddledome.

It was only fitting, then, that the call to the Hall came from #9 himself.


“To be able to make that call to Vernie last year, that was such a fun call,” McDonald recalled. “He thought I was calling for a golf game! I’m asking what he’s doing in November! ‘Well I dunno! That’s a long ways away!’ ‘Well, Vernie, you are going to be busy.’

“Those are the coolest calls you could ever make.”

“Personally, I’m honoured to be mentioned in that group, I still kind of pinch myself,” Vernon added. “I think it also starts from our leader, Cliff Fletcher, who’s in the Hall of Fame. He basically set the foundation for this organization; he drafted ‘em, he built the culture for a lot of us.

“They’re great players, and we grew together as players, as young guys growing up, and learning the ropes from the legends like Lanny McDonald.”