1972/73: On October 7th, the NHL’s two newest teams faced off in New York with the Atlanta Flames edging the Islanders 3-2. A week later, the NHL came to Dixie as the Flames, and Buffalo Sabres played to a 1-1 stalemate. As expansion teams go, the Flames were competitive, finishing seventh in the Western Division with a record of 25-38-15, which was better than four established franchises, with more the double the point total of the Islanders their partners in expansion.
1973/74: Led by Rookie Tom Lysiak, who finishes 2nd in voting for the Calder Trophy with 64 points, the Flames make the playoffs in just their 2nd season with a record of 30-34-14. However, in the playoffs, the Flames would be extinguished right away by the Philadelphia Flyers losing the first three games by a combined score of 13-3, before losing the 4th game in overtime to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions.
1974/75: NHL begins divisional play with the Flames being placed in the Campbell Conference’s Patrick Division. The Flames continued to play solid hockey posting a winning record for the first time in franchise history with a record of 34-31-15. However, the Flames would finish in last place and would miss the playoffs in a competitive conference.
1975/76: Led by All-Stars Tom Lysiak and Curt Bennett, the Flames continue to play decent hockey posting a 35-33-12 record to earn their 2nd playoff berth in their four-year history. However, the Flames would exit the playoffs without a win again losing two straight one-goal games to the Los Angeles Kings, 2-1 and 1-0.
1976/77: Willi Plett captures the Calder Trophy with a team-high 33 goals as the Flames make the playoffs again with a record of 34-34-12. In the playoffs, the Flames would be matched up against the Los Angeles Kings again, dropping Game 1 of a 3-game series 5-2 in Los Angels. Needing a win to keep their hopes alive, the Flames beat the Kings 3-2 to avoid the sweep. However, in Game 3 back in Los Angeles, the Flames would be put out with a 4-2 loss.
1977/78: With a robust top line of Tom Lysiak, Eric Vail, and Willi Plett, the Flames put together a solid season finishing in 3rd place with a 34-27-19 record. However, in the playoffs, the Flames would sputter again as they lost two straight games to the Detroit Red Wings.
1978/79: The Flames would finish in last place in the 4-team Patrick Division. However, the Flames were not an ordinary last-place team, nor was their season ruined. In fact, with a 41-31-8 record, the Flames would reach 90 points for the first time in franchise history while making the playoffs for the 5th straight season. However, in the playoffs, the Flames would lack spark again as they are swept by the Toronto Maple Leafs losing two consecutive games by a combined score of 9-5.
1979/80: The Flames continued to post winning records making the playoffs for the seventh time in their nine-year history with a respectable record of 35-32-13. One of the highlights of the season came when Jim Craig made his NHL debut just six days after he backstopped the US Olympic Hockey Team’s stunning Gold Medal. The debut of Jim Craig would bring a rare sellout to The Omni as he stopped 24 of 25 shots leading the Flames to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies. However, Craig would not win another game in 3 starts. In the playoffs, the Flames would burn out quickly again as they won just one game as they fell to the New York Rangers in 4 games. Despite making the playoffs seven times, the Flames had only two postseason wins to show for it. Off the ice, the Flames situation was more tenuous as owner Tom Cousins saw his real estate empire crumbling. To save himself from bankruptcy, he had to sell the Flames. With mediocre fan support and the lack of due to a lack of significant television contracts, there were few offers from local interest, so Cousins turned to Canadian Nelson Skalania, who had the intention of moving the team to Calgary. In a late bid to keep the team in Atlanta, actor Glenn Ford offers Cousins $8 million, but it would not be close to the $16 million provided by Skalania, who moved the team north of the border.
1980-1999: The Flames would go on to find a loyal fan base in Calgary, as Atlanta became a minor league city. However, in 1988 things began to change as Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. The trade made hockey more popular in the United States and opened southern markets. Eventually, the NHL would make a return to Atlanta as media mogul Ted Turner was awarded an expansion team that began play in 1999.
©MMVI Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Hockey League. This site is not affiliated with the Atlanta Flames or the NHL. This site is maintained for research purposes only.
All logos used on this page were fromChris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.