Though the 2008/09 season ended on a disappointing note, the Calgary Flames last campaign was one filled with exciting moments and strong performances. The team's veteran core was complemented nicely by young players whose roles and responsibilities increased as the season progressed, and their successes were truly the result of a team effort.
Unfortunately, the team holding the Stanley Cup at the end of the season is usually the only team that is ever truly happy, the remaining 29 have to take the positives where they can. For the Flames the positives were plentiful, and last season provided the team, and their fans, with a number of reasons to smile going forward.
Over 4,350 Flames fans took part in the 2009 edition of the Flames Fan Awards, making their voices heard by voting for their favourite players. Flames fans are typically a knowledgeable bunch. While the more avid ones can give you an array of facts and statistics on anyone within the Flames' system, even passive fans follow the team's progress, and know where most of the players stand. A few of the answers are as consistent as can be expected from these loyal Flames fans, but there are a few surprises in the numbers.
So without further delay, here are your 'Fannie' award winners for the 2008/09 season:Which Player was the Flames MVP this year?
Winner: Jarome Iginla (42.4%)
Could it really be anyone else? The captain, leader, leading scorer, and best player on his
team was voted as the most valuable player. Few outside of Calgary understand
the extent of what Iginla brings to the ice on a daily basis, and what he means to both the team, and the city. While he admittedly had a down season with only 35 goals, his 89 points were up around their usual levels, as Iginla differed part of the offensive load to teammates who were more talented as a group than any he had skated with previously. The Flames are Iginla's team, and both the players and fans know that he is their MVP almost every night. As such, this is a title Iginla is likely to hold as long as he wears the 'Flaming C' on his chest.Runners Up:Mike Cammalleri
Rene Bourque (13.1%)
Other (4.2%)Who was the Flames top defenseman?
Winner: Robyn Regehr (60%)
The hulking, bruising defenseman causes many sleepless nights for opponents, who know
they'll be lining up against Regehr the following day. Opposing players cannot help but lay awake at night, restless and writhing with concern, as they anticipate the bruising they are in line to receive at the hands of Regehr. When he went down with only a handful of games left in the season, his mates on the blueline, though they tried diligently, could not compensate for his loss. Regehr accentuates his steady defensive play with strong, vocal leadership in the locker room, as he is quick to express displeasure any time the teams' play began to slide. Runners Up:Cory Sarich
Dion Phaneuf (13.1%)
Adrian Aucoin (7.6%)
Other (1.5%)Who was the Flames top forward?
Winner: Mike Cammalleri (45.7%)
First-year Flame Mike Cammallieri made a strong first-impression, leading the team in scoring, and setting a career high with 39 goals. Big things were anticipated from Cammalleri when he was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings, and he easily exceeded any expectations by immediately contributing the long-desired supplemental offense to Iginla. Though it remains to be seen whether or not Cammalleri, an unrestricted free-agent, will be back with the Flames next year, his one season in Calgary was definitely a memorable one.Runners Up:Jarome Iginla
Rene Bourque (15%)David Moss
Other (1.3%)Which player was the Flames unsung hero?
Winner: Eric Nystrom (56.6%)
Ny' had a knack last season for coming through a clutch times, as three of his five goals in the
regular season were of the game-winning variety, with another coming in the playoffs. Unfortunately statistics do not accurately measure Nystrom's contributions to the Flames, as he is the team's sparkplug, a hard-hitting, hard-skating, hitting, fighting, and fore-checking fixture that can perform on any of the four lines. The playoffs, though brief, were a coming out party of sorts for Nystrom, as his level of play elevated from the first postseason puckdrop, and never waivered. Nystorm's confident and defiant attitude off the ice, and his aggressive style on it, are valuable components of the team's swagger.Runners Up:
Craig Conroy (21%)
Daymond Langokow (12.3%)
Jim Vandermeer (3.5%)Which player surprised you the most this season?
Winner: Rene Bourque (53.1%)
Bourque's acquisition from the Chicago Blackhawks during the last offseason went largely
unheralded, but that changed from the break of training camp, as he quickly matured into the Flames X-factor. Bourque's physical play, as well as his touch around the net, were elements of the Flames attack not universally considered by opposing teams, and he made those who left him alone pay time and again over the course of the year. Unfortunately his breakout season was partially derailed by a high ankle sprain that shelved him for the final quarter of the regular season, but Bourque managed to set career-highs in both goals and points in only 58 games. Runners Up:David Moss
Eric Nystrom (13.4%)
Other (3.2%)Who was the Flames ultimate warrior this season?
Winner: Cory Sarich (39.9%)
During the final stretch of the season the Flames defensive corps became decimated so
quickly, and so thoroughly through injuries, that it was almost comical, almost... Cory Sarich
was one of the casualties, suffering broken bones in his foot while blocking a shot during a power-play in a late-season contest. As the injuries continued to mount with his defensive mates, Sarich came back early and played a pivotal role on the team's blueline. Though he was obviously hobbled, Sarich refused to make excuses and instead played more, and more valuable minutes. Runners Up:Miikka Kiprusoff
Robyn Regehr (22.4%)
Craig Conroy (9.4%)
Other (6.8%)Which Flames prospect do you expect to see in the line-up next season?
Winner: Mikael Backlund (76.1%)
The overwhelming choice was Mikael Backlund
of the Kelowna Rockets, who played 10 minutes for the Flames in a January game against the New York Islanders. Backlund was
invited to last year's training camp and did not have the strongest showing, but he seems to have grown by leaps and bounds ever since. Following an excellent performance for his native Sweden in the World Junior Championships, Backlund joined the Rockets, where consistent playing time expedited his development. At times Backlund seemed out of place playing junior hockey, a man among boys as it were. While the Flames roster is a tough one to crack, there is usually at least a spot or two set aside for youngsters, and if Backlund continues to develop and work on his game over the summer, he may force his way into consideration for a full-time spot in the show.Runners Up:
Matt Pelech (17.4%)
John Negrin (5.1%)
Greg Nemisz (4.7%)