This coming May is the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Flames moving to Calgary. To commemorate this occasion, we’re counting down the Top 40 Calgary Flames in history.
Coming in at #23 is Robert Reichel.
Drafted right after the Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989, Reichel was a highly touted product of Czechoslovakia’s domestic league and the hope was he could be lured over – after all, the Flames had gotten Swedes and Russians to come over and they all got a chance to succeed.
When any European scorer goes on a tear and then comes to North America, the question is whether they can adjust to the NHL (and how long it’ll take). Reichel had a quietly impressive 41 point debut season in 1990-91, finishing 8th in rookie scoring. By his third season, though, he found another gear.
Reichel had 88 points in 1992-93, second on the team behind only Theo Fleury’s 100. The following season, he had 93 points and led the entire team in scoring. Since 1990, it’s pretty rare for anybody whose last name isn’t Fleury, Iginla or Gaudreau to do that.
The 1994-95 lockout was a turning point for Reichel and the Flames. He spent the lockout with the DEL’s Frankfurt Lions. They liked him and offered him a big raise to stick around. The Flames couldn’t (or wouldn’t) match it – bear in mind this was before the currency equalization plan – and so he spent a season playing in Europe as a holdout before rejoining the club for 1996-97. He had a decent season, but was traded to the Islanders prior to the trade deadline.
Before the relationship went south, Reichel was a superb Flame. He had five and a half seasons in red, and two of them were flat-out excellent. That gets him to #23 on our list.
Arrival: Selected in the fourth round, 70th overall, in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft (June 17, 1989)
Departure: Traded to the NY Islanders for Marty McInnis, Tyrone Garner and 1997 seventh round pick (Ilya Demidov) (March 18, 1997)
Top 40 Calgary Flames: HM Martin Gelinas | #40 Brad Marsh | #39 Matt Stajan | #38 Jiri Hudler | #37 Dion Phaneuf | #36 Guy Chouinard | #35 Phil Housley | #34 Matthew Tkachuk | #33 Cory Stillman | #32 Curtis Glencross | #31 Jamie Macoun | #30 Carey Wilson | #29 Reggie Lemelin | #28 TJ Brodie | #27 Alex Tanguay | #26 Daymond Langkow | #25 Sergei Makarov | #24 Craig Conroy