The season’s been over for only a day.

But the Flames are already anxious to get things started next fall.

The team conducted its year-end media availability Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and while there was certainly disappointment about the way things ended this winter, everyone’s already looking ahead with a sense of purpose to the coming autumn.

The 2023-24 campaign brought about things to build on in 2024-25, including a 75-point effort from centre Nazem Kadri, who joked Friday he got pretty good at his new-found role as a mentor for Calgary’s younger players.

But at the end of the day, it’s a results business.

And Kadri wants to get results, in a Flames uniform.

“I want to make the playoffs, and I don’t think I’m the only one that feels that way,” he said. “In terms of management, they understand the situation and they want to be competitive, and our organization wants to be competitive.”

Flames wrap up the season optimistic about the future

Calgary’s winter (and, yes, early spring) snow was matched in intensity by a flurry of movement in the dressing room over the past few months, but out of the storm, a new-look culture has started to form.

And it’s one that head coach Ryan Huska alluded to several times in his year-end address.

“I like the direction that it’s going, for sure, and I feel like (for) the players, the person beside them is now becoming more important,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re there yet, I feel like we’re going in the right direction with that, because at the end of the day, that’s what you have to fall back on; you fall back on your work, and you fall back on your standards, and the culture that you have in your dressing room.

“So the stronger that is, the tighter the ties that they have as a team, to each other, the better your team’s gonna be.”

Part of that culture is born by embracing one’s surroundings, too.

For Yegor Sharangovich, the move to Calgary involved not only a shift in time zone, but also a transition from life in the U.S. to new beginnings in Canada.

That move brought about a career-best 31 goals and 59 points in his first season in Flames silks.

And after joking that the biggest difference between Calgary and New Jersey was the amount of media in attendance, Sharangovich lauded what the city has to offer both himself, and his young family

“For us, for my family, it’s really good to be here,” he said. “We love Calgary, it’s a really good city, I think it’s a family city. It’s really different than New Jersey because in New Jersey, you always need to drive, like to the park 15 minutes for a walk with the dog and the baby.

“Here, there’s a lot of good areas where you can live and just go from the house, with the baby, and just walk.”

And if a sales pitch is required for a possible new arrival to the Stampede City, Kadri might be just the man to deliver it.

“I get asked all the time about Calgary, and what I think about playing here, and I’ve got nothing but good things to say, ‘cause the city has really grown on me,” he said. “I was a free agent that chose to be here, and I know how great of a city and the fanbase that Calgary can be; a lot of people maybe don’t recognize that because they haven’t lived here, it’s a great organization with a great family dynamic.

“I know if they ask me, I know what I’m saying. It’s a terrific place to play.”

Both Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau were Calgary’s two high-profile acquisitions in the summer of 2022 - both committed to stay here long-term.

After starting his NHL career in Toronto, Kadri knew all about the intensity of playing in a Canadian market prior to signing a seven-year contract with the Flames, but Huberdeau’s story is a bit different.

He’d never called a Canadian market - and particularly a Western Canadian one - home, after being acquired from the Florida Panthers.

But two years into his Flames tenure, he’s found out all about Calgary’s charm.

“I think Calgary’s a great city,” he said. “The people, the community, I’ve never really lived Canadian hockey and it’s nice to see everybody’s really involved in everything, the community, the fanbase.”

A waiver pickup in October, A.J. Greer became a fan favourite at the 'Dome this past season with a fast-paced, bruising style of play - and the odd timely goal.

A broken foot derailed Greer's season in January, but after a start to the campaign that was - to say the least - tumultuous, the pending free agent credits the Flames for getting things back on track.

“I was put in a tough situation at the beginning of the season, being put on waivers in Boston,” he explained. “When you get put on waivers, like I’ve said before, it’s something that’s unknown, it happens so quick. You have all these emotions, you have 24 hours, really, to find your fate.

“Once Calgary picked me up, it was such a seamless transition, they took care of everything, they took care of my family. I felt like I was really respected and valued once I came here, I think the transition into the lineup and into this system and the group here was seamless, and I tried to do everything I could every day to bring the best out of myself for this team, whether that was in practice or in games.”

But back to culture, and the identity the Flames have begun to build over the past few months.

It’s player-driven, like Huska said, so it’s perhaps fitting that it’s a career Flame leading the charge as captain.

"My biggest dream is to win here in Calgary"

Mikael Backlund could have left last summer, instead deciding to remain a Flame on a new deal.

It was a move that made sense at the time, and a season later, continues to feel just right.

“This is our home, this is a team I love playing for, it’s so special to be here in Calgary and play here,” he said Friday. “My dream is to win, but my biggest dream is to win here in Calgary; I think this re-tool is necessary for this organization, I knew that going into this year.”

Now 10 games away from 1,000, a total that stands as the second-most in franchise history, Backlund’s just about seen it all since being selected in the first round of the 2007 draft.

But being front and centre on the ice, as well as at the forefront of the culture shift off it, the Swedish veteran has positive vibes about what’s in store.

“I’m excited for next year,” Backlund said Friday.

“I think good things are ahead of us.”

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