CALGARY, AB -- Sean Monahan has put up impressive numbers through his first two seasons with the Calgary Flames. The 20-year-old can add on a letter, too.
The Flames third-year pro will don an ‘A’ for the upcoming season, it was announced on Tuesday.
“That’s an easy decision,” coach Bob Hartley said. “With Mony, it’s about making decisions about today and tomorrow. He’s very young, only 20 years old, but looking at the poise, looking at the maturity, looking at the performances that he’s putting up in the last two years.
“Plus towards the end of the year and even more in the playoffs, suddenly we could hear from the bench, Marty and I, Mony like, ‘C’mon boys,’ and we were looking at each other and we were like, ‘Wow, that’s Mony.’ We know Mony as pretty quiet. He’s growing. He’s growing the right way. He is very proud to be a Calgary Flame.
“We could’ve given this letter to eight, nine, 12, 10 guys. We have so many great guys, great leaders, but we had to come up with a choice and we felt that it was a great investment for today and more importantly tomorrow to go with Mony.”
Monahan and Dennis Wideman will alternate wearing the 'A' during home and away games this season. Kris Russell will continue to wear an 'A' in all games in 2015-16.
The significance isn’t lost on Monahan.
“It’s obviously an honour,” he said. “When you look at it, there are so many guys in the dressing room that could be wearing it. It’s an honour and I’ll wear it with pride. I think it’s an honour to have it but I’m not going to change who I am or how I prepare or what I’m going to do to get ready and lead by example.”
Monahan wasn’t sure he’d be the recipient of the letter.
“Anybody could get it and I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “A lot of guys wore ‘A’s last year. I was pretty excited and it’s a huge honour. It shows that they have confidence in me. They look at me as someone who can get things done and try to lead by example. I feel respected by all the vets and all the guys in the room and I give that same respect back. I try to do whatever I can to have fun in here and win.”
Selected sixth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Monahan quickly became the fixture for Calgary’s rebuild and has quickly worked his way up into a starring role with the Flames.
Making the team out of camp two seasons ago, the Brampton, ON native became the first Flames rookie to hit the 20-goal plateau since Dion Phaneuf in 2005-06, while settling at 22 goals gave him the highest freshman total in Calgary since Jarome Iginla.
His encore was even more impressive. As a sophomore, Monahan finished with 31 goals and 31 assists.
“[Monahan] is a true pro,” Hartley said. “Even at 20 years old, he’s unbelievable. You can always trust him. He is always going to be on time. He’ll always be ready. He wants to be in critical situations on the ice. He’s very well respected despite his young age as a player with our team throughout the organization. I think he’s a great role model for young kids. For me, that’s the definition for someone who is going to be in a leadership role.”
Over the past 20 NHL seasons there have been just 10 players to record at least 30 goals and 30 assists in the same season before their age-21 season. Among them are Crosby (twice), Marian Gaborik (twice), Stamkos (twice), Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, Ilya Kovalchuk, Malkin, Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Jeff Skinner.
Monahan, who quietly finished fifth in Lady Byng voting, is the latest addition to the group.
“[He] deserves it,” forward Brandon Bollig said. “He’s made a splash his first few years in the league and he’s going to be a player in this league for a long time. He’s respected throughout the room. I wouldn’t say he’s necessarily the loudest guy in the room, which you don’t need. We’ve got plenty of older guys that do enough talking and are good on that front. Mony’s a guy that he earns his playing time, he works hard for how skilled he is.
“He deserves it. He’s going to be good for us, a great leader on the ice, as he’s always been even though he’s 18, 19 in this league. Doing the things he did were beyond his years. Everyone’s happy for him and I’m excited to see where he takes us.”