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Old-timers on TikTok: The making of the 1989 Flames' viral video

The Calgary Flames alumni marked the anniversary of their 1989 Stanley Cup title with a TikTok video, a mash-up of a bunch of 50- and 60-somethings ‘passing’ hockey’s ultimate prize around from their respective basements and backyards.
The Calgary Flames alumni marked the anniversary of their 1989 Stanley Cup title with a TikTok video, a mash-up of a bunch of 50- and 60-somethings ‘passing’ hockey’s ultimate prize around from their respective basements and backyards.

Thirty-one years after they triumphed, they were trending.

From victorious to … well … viral, in a good way.

The Calgary Flames alumni marked the anniversary of their 1989 Stanley Cup title with a TikTok video, a mash-up of a bunch of 50- and 60-somethings ‘passing’ hockey’s ultimate prize around from their respective basements and backyards.

“That was Colin Patterson’s idea and he hounded the guys to get their different videos in, and his daughter Stephanie put it all together. And it turned out absolutely awesome,” said Flames franchise legend Lanny McDonald, still the most recognizable face — and moustache — from a championship squad that featured five eventual Hockey Hall-of-Famers.

“TikTok was brand new for me, and I’m sure brand new for a lot of the guys. But to see how it turned out … It couldn’t have been better. And wow, it’s just kind of taken off.”

Indeed, the old-timers have been a hit online.

The video was posted Monday morning, exactly 31 years after the 1989 Flames capped their quest with a 4-2 win over the Canadiens in Game 6 at the Montreal Forum.

Within 24 hours, the original had racked up more than 210,000 views on Twitter. When you add the totals from Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, that number grows by another 55,000 … and that doesn’t include clicks on the many websites that have since shared the content.

“It’s really neat to see how people have gravitated to it,” said Patterson, among those who is determined to help the Flames’ alumni — a group that is doing some outstanding work in the community — grow its following on social media. “My daughter was reading me a few of the comments from the first half hour or so of it, and there were a lot of people from out east, Montreal fans especially, watching it and saying, ‘Hey, congratulations. I didn’t like you guys at the time, but this is great.’

“So it’s been really cool, and I’m just happy that it came together for the guys. Whether it’s trending or whatever, it was more getting it together for the guys, so they can have it too.”

The 1989 Flames’ virtual celebration is a spin on the Don’t Rush Challenge, which became a popular pandemic pastime. Those TikTok collaborations typically feature a group of friends — filmed separately in self-isolation — transitioning from bathrobes or lounge wear to more glamorous get-up, often while pretending to pass a makeup brush or another item back and forth.

Patterson was quizzing bobsledder Alysia Rissling — both are proud supporters of KidSport initiatives in Calgary — via Instagram about how she created a video that includes several of Canada’s Olympians. Rissling was first to suggest that the Flames’ alumni should take a crack at something similar.

It’s annual tradition that every Stanley Cup winner receives a replica of the trophy, and it occurred to Patterson and his oldest daughter that each member of that banner-raising bunch should still have that 13-inch souvenir, engraved with the names of every contributor.

Perhaps, they could virtually pass the hardware around, just like they had on the ice at the Montreal Forum on May 25, 1989?

Patterson, who scored the opening goal in Game 6 against the Habs, emailed instructions in late April and pestered the procrastinators as the anniversary date inched closer.

Stephanie, born during the third round of the 1989 playoff run, had the toughest job. The time limit for a TikTok is 60 seconds, and these guys don’t move as fast as they did during their hockey heydays. (No offence, gents.)

The video starts with McDonald, co-captain of that championship crew, announcing “Here’s to the Cup” and pouring a gulp of beer — in case you were wondering, the Hat Trick Hop IPA from his family-owned, Montana-based Tamarack Brewing Co. — into his trophy.

Lanny is followed by Jiri Hrdina and then a poolside Doug Gilmour, a splashy setting for the guy who scored the winning goal in Game 6 and also sealed it with an empty-netter. (Many think Lanny’s second-period snipe was the clincher, but that’s not the case.)

Up next are Brian MacLellan, Dana Murzyn and Bearcat and Al Murray, the father-son duo who worked as trainers for the Flames.

The video continues with Gary Suter, who suffered a broken jaw during the opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, Patterson, Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Macoun.

The goosebumps moment comes midway courtesy of Rob Ramage, who raises four fingers and points skyward in a touching tribute to former defence partner Brad McCrimmon.

“He was a great friend, a great teammate and a great person, and we were on the ice together for that final buzzer in Montreal,” Ramage said of McCrimmon, who wore No. 4 for the Flames and was killed in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash in 2011. “We were kind of the elder statesmen back on the blue-line on that team. I have just a wonderful picture that’s in my office of Brad and I in the locker-room afterwards. We wore the old Stanfield’s combination underwear underneath — nothing high-tech back then — and we’re drenched in champagne and he had a big divot on his nose and we hadn’t shaved in a couple months, so we looked like two bushwhackers. And we’re hugging. It’s a wonderful, wonderful picture.”

This, most hockey fans would agree, is a wonderful tribute.

“That part is really special,” Patterson agreed. “And Rammer just did that. There was no, ‘Hey, can you do this for Beast?’ or anything like that. Actually, Tim Hunter had asked me, ‘What are going to do for Beast?’ I told him, ‘I’m not sure yet,’ and Tim sent me a picture of a hockey stick — McCrimmon’s stick — with one of the little Cups beside it. So the guys were thinking about it. A bunch of guys asked what we were going to do for Beast and for Bobby Stewart.

“And then my daughter came up with the idea, when she saw Rammer do the four fingers and point up, to bring Brad McCrimmon in holding the Cup on the ice. And that looks really, really neat.”

During the on-ice celebration in 1989, McCrimmon handed the Stanley Cup to Joel Otto, so it’s fitting the Calgary Hitmen assistant coach appears next on the video.

Then Hakan Loob, who headed home to Sweden — still in the prime of his career — after the championship campaign.

Then homegrown goaltender Mike Vernon, one of several to take an imaginary swig from the shiny showpiece.

Then assistant coach Doug Risebrough, Theo Fleury, Hunter, Gary Roberts and Al MacInnis, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner after piling up 31 points from the blue-line.

After Rick Wamsley and Mark Hunter, Ric Nattress lays a smooch on his replica. Joe Mullen, who scored a team-high 16 goals that spring, and a helmeted Jim Peplinski are last (but not least) among the skaters, followed by skipper Terry Crisp, executive Al Coates and assistant coach Tom Watt.

The TikTok is capped by a grinning Cliff Fletcher — the general manager of that squad is now 84 years young — and a tribute to Stewart, the former equipment manager who passed last year.

(Andrew Stachiw, an ace videographer for Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp., added grainy highlights from that special evening to create an extended version, set to Cal Kellett’s iconic ‘Red Hot.’ It’s also must-see material for any Flames fan.)

“I truly didn’t think I’d get everybody, but we did,” Patterson said. “That shows the type of guys we had on that team. Beyond just great players, we had great guys, and we were really close. We had a very tight-knit group. And even now, it’s funny to watch the emails fly back and forth — the guys are chirping each other, and that’s part of the fun.”

Patterson’s Stanley Cup miniature is perched above the TV in his basement.

Other guys didn’t have theirs quite as handy.

Lanny had to place a call to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, where the memento is part of his honouree display. (“They’re redoing for the newest inductees anyway, so I picked it up and it was perfect timing.”)

Nieuwendyk, who won his first of three championship rings with the Flames, had to borrow a replica from a former Dallas Stars teammate who lives down the street. His keepsakes are at another location.

Some of the 1989ers had to submit their video clips twice.

They can blame Gilmour for that — ‘Killer’ was the first to don a Flames jersey for the shoot, and he looked sharp.

Loob had already recorded his clip. And then came a request for a redo.

“That made it even better, I think,” said Loob, again employed by the Flames as their top scout in Europe. “At first, I didn’t really understand what Patter had in mind, but the result was just awesome. For us, as players from that Cup team, I think it was great because you get to see all the guys. And for people from the outside, just to remind them that we won the Cup in 1989, I thought that was great.

“And the amazing thing is that so many people here in Sweden too have reacted in such a positive way. When I retweeted it, it was just like, ‘Boom!’ People liked it so much. I think it’s a big hit, for sure. And probably a lot of comments are coming from people that weren’t that old at that time, but it’s a reminder and they start talking about what they were doing or how they saw what happened in the 1989 run. It just shows that if you do something like that, it stays with you for your whole life.”

That bond remains strong, three-plus decades and one viral video later.

“We’re getting old,” Ramage said with a chuckle. “I can remember Ardell McDonald saying, I think it was at the 25th reunion, ‘Just take a look at our kids … ’ Well, it’s not take a look at our kids anymore. It’s take a look at our grandkids. I’ve got seven of ’em.”

Their grandkids must be impressed.

Because right now, these old-timers are trending.

“Especially in these times … People need a feel-good thing to kind of hold onto,” McDonald said. “Obviously, that was a great feel-good thing for all of Calgary and southern Alberta and for hockey fans everywhere.

“It just is so much fun to watch.”

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

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