The return of Matthew Tkachuk to Calgary on Tuesday brought out as many — if not more — boo birds than cheers from Flames fans who watched their team beat the Florida Panthers.
Sean Monahan’s return to the Stampede City on Thursday as a member of the Montreal Canadiens shouldn’t have any animosity.
Monahan, who spent nine seasons with the Flames before being traded to the Canadiens last summer in a salary-cap clearing move that allowed the Flames to sign free-agent Nazem Kadri, will be honored by the Flames and their fans for his goal-scoring skills and determination to play through a litany of injuries.
Tkachuk, in contrast, was a restricted free agent after last season and didn’t want to sign a long-term deal with Calgary, leading to his off-season trade … and Flames fans let him know their displeasure.
“Sean did everything you asked him to,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter, in his third year back with the team. “If Sean had been one of those guys on a long-term (contract), that’s a captain. I’ve never seen Sean at his best because … he played parts of two years with major issues, but Sean Monahan is such a coachable guy and a good guy. He’s moving a lot better than the last two years, so good for him.”
Monahan, who needed surgery after five of his last six seasons in Calgary, left the Flames seventh among the team’s career NHL goal-scorers, 10th in points and ninth in games played.
“It’s going to be weird, but I’m excited to get back there,” Monahan told Sportsnet. “I think the big thing is just the relationships. I built a lot of lifetime relationships with people from the city and the organization and obviously some teammates. It’s going to be special.”
Currently, Monahan is third on the Canadiens with nine assists, and tied for fourth with five goals — well on pace for his best statistical season since since 2018-19, when his career-high of 82 points marked his fifth consecutive season with more than 50 points.
The Canadiens arrive in Calgary to start a four-game road swing following a 4-0 home loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
On the surface, that would appear to be a one-sided defeat, but the Canadiens created their chances and put 28 shots on goal but weren’t able to convert.
“I think we were all over them for the most part of the game,” defenseman Mike Matheson said. “It’s just one of those ones you have to credit them.”
While the Canadiens look to rebound, the Flames are on a quest to build on a 6-2 win over the Panthers in the first of five consecutive home games for Calgary.
“It was a good way for us to start the week and start the homestand,” said forward Dillon Dube, who led the way with one goal and two assists. “Whether it was a 1-0 hockey game or whatever the score was, we needed to win and get that home-ice advantage for the start of this swing, so it’s going to be really good for us.”
The night was a veritable offensive explosion after the Flames managed only three goals in their three previous outings — all of them losses
“We’ve been battling quite a bit to score more goals,” defenseman Noah Hanifin said. “It was good to see last game, guys able to finish. Definitely a step in the right direction.”
–Field Level Media