Håkan Loob isn’t unlike many of the faithful wondering what’s happened to the upstart bunch that rose to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in over a half-decade some seven months ago.
But he understands it.
The Calgary Flames alumnus, watching with a keen eye from his hometown of Karlstad, Sweden might even have a remedy, too.
“You always want a little more than maybe you should grab for at certain moments,” Loob told CalgaryFlames.com via a phone interview Wednesday. “I think patience is one thing. Then it’s belief. Guys in the dressing room, with the coaches, have to build that and build some confidence in that.
I got up early in the morning to watch games because all the games were on. I was following their run really, really close. - - Hakan Loob
“All you need really, and it sounds easy but it’s harder, is to win a few games in a row, three or four games in a row and then you can be off to the races again.”
Loob knows something about winning. He helped Calgary to the only Stanley Cup title in franchise history in 1989, and though he returned to Sweden immediately following the championship, the Flames never left his heart.
Now the president of hockey operations for Farjestads BK -- a team in which he starred for both before and after his stint in Calgary -- Loob remains the most avid of Flames fans.
“I just think the time we had with the city and the people there, and of course with the management and the whole thing, that really brought so much to my heart,” he said. “I have a very, very hard time not thinking that Calgary’s not my NHL team and always will be. It’s just the strong feelings that were built over six years.”
In 450 games over six seasons with Calgary, Loob recorded 193 goals and 429 points, and became the first -- and remains the only -- Swedish-born NHLer to score 50 goals in a single season, accomplishing the feat in 1987-88. It’s the same season he set a new Flames record with five hat-tricks in one year.
The ninth-round pick, 181st overall, at the 1980 NHL Entry Draft remains 10th all-time in franchise goals, 12th in points, 10th in multi-goal games (21), and 23rd in games played.
His last skate as a member of the Flames came in hoisting the Stanley Cup following a 4-2 win in Game 6 of the Final against the Montreal Canadiens on May 25, 1989. It was his 73rd career playoff game.
Calgary’s run up to, and in the 2015 playoffs conjured up some special memories for the now spectator.
The rebuilding Flames finished third in the Pacific Division with a 45-30-7 record to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2009. In beating the Vancouver Canucks in six games of the Western Conference First Round, Calgary won their first series since making their only other Finals appearance in 2004.
Loob was watching every shot, goal and save along the way.
“Oh my god, I was so thrilled when everything turned and all of a sudden there was a fantastic race,” he said. “Winning the first round of the playoffs was great for me. The time change is perfect. I got up early in the morning to watch games because all the games were on. I was following their run really, really close. I was very happy to hear that the people in Calgary were really inspired. It was a remarkable change in everything, with the positivity of the fans. It was great.”
The Flames haven’t found the same formula this fall.
The now 55-year-old has been an observer through the start of the 2015-16 season, too, one that has seen the Flames struggle to a 7-12-1 record -- sixth in the Pacific Division.
“Even to me, when you know all that really hard work paid off, it’s almost like a second-year jinx or something because expectations run higher,” Loob said. “You have to understand again that it’s not the big, big things, or the big, big plays.
“It’s the small things you have to do well all the time and sometimes that’s hard.”