The Atlanta Flames joined the National Hockey League, along with the New York Islanders, for the 1972-73 season. The Flames lasted eight years in Atlanta before moving to Calgary for 1980-81. The team was fairly successful in that they reached the Stanley Cup playoffs in six of the eight years. However, they never won a series and only won two games in the post season, one against the Los Angeles Kings in 1976-77 and one against the New York Rangers in 1979-80.
Over their eight years in the NHL before moving to Alberta, the Flames had four team captains. Two finished their careers in Atlanta, one was a second overall pick by the Flames in 1973 and one played just two games shy of 1,000 over his NHL career.
Atlanta’s first team captain wore the ‘C’ from 1972-73 to 1974-75, the final three years of his NHL career. McCreary was picked up 18th overall by the Flames in the 1972 Expansion Draft. Five years earlier, he was involved in another NHL Expansion Draft, picked up by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1967, 52nd overall.
It was expansion that made the NHL career of Keith McCreary. Previous to 1967-68, he played just one playoff game with the Montreal Canadiens in 1961-62 and nine regular season games with the Habs in 1964-65. He went on to play 532 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 131 and assisting on 112 for 243 points. McCreary played an additional 16 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs, four with Atlanta, adding four points.
Pat Quinn was team captain in Atlanta for the 1975-76 and 1976-77 season, also his final two in the NHL. Quinn was with the Flames right from the start, taken 34th overall in the 1972 Expansion Draft. Pat also was part of another expansion draft, taken eighth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 1970.
Quinn, more noted for his work behind the bench and in the front office, played 606 regular season games in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver and Atlanta. The defenseman scored 18 goals and totalled 131 points. Pat played in just 11 playoff games, adding one assist. The year after retiring as a player, Pat immediately jumped behind the bench as assistant coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.
At the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft, Lysiak was taken second overall by the Flames behind Denis Potvin who went to the Islanders. He was a promising offensive threat that had led the WHL in scoring the previous two seasons.
Tom played with the Flames from 1973-74 to 1978-79 and was captain in his final two years with the club until an eight player trade sent him to the Chicago Blackhawks on March 13, 1979. Lysiak continued on with Chicago until retiring after the 1985-86 season.
Over 919 regular season National Hockey League games, Tom scored 292 and assisted 551 for 843 points. In 76 Stanley Cup playoff games, mostly with Chicago, he added another 63 points. As a Flame, Lysiak played for Canada at the 1978 IIHF World Championships held in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Canada finished third behind the Soviets and Czechs.
Jean Pronovost played two years with Atlanta and was captain in his final season with the club, 1979-80. Like the other three, he would not play for the Flames in Calgary. Jean was with the Washington Capitals when the team moved to Canada.
His NHL career started in 1968-69 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and ended after the 1981-82 season. Pronovost was unfortunate to play for just the Penguins, Flames and Capitals in an era when those teams just weren’t very good. He appeared in 998 NHL regular season games, scoring 391 goals and assisting on 383 for 774 points. Jean played in just 35 playoff games, adding 20 points.