By Randy Lewis
"What are you guys doing this weekend?" asked the Calgary Flames organization. "There’s some free beer in it for you if you help us pack."
The Flames are all but finished their stint in this city. It’s been a fun 21 seasons, but
there really hasn’t been much to get excited about in the last decade or so. Like anybody stuck in a middle-management position, sometimes the only way to move up is to move on. So if you’re hoping to catch the National Hockey League in Calgary from now on, you’d better own a television.
After a desperate ticket drive this past summer, the city of Calgary showed their support for their beloved cellar dwellers and forked over the coin. Both owner Harley Hotchkiss and CEO Ron Bremner promised that if the fans showed their commitment, they would do the same by putting a winning product back on the ice. Well, with just over 20 games left to go in the season I can’t say there’s any difference between this team and the ones of the past 5 or 6 years. Again, the team is fighting for their lives in the hope of not missing yet another year of post-season play.
The blame can’t fall solely on the players, because despite the occasional game off, the guys have worked their tails off. The desire to win is there most nights but the skill is lacking.
Where was Craig Button when players like Rob Blake were on the trading block? Sure, more than likely Los Angeles General Manager Dave Taylor wasn’t really interested in what we have to offer, but was there even a mention of the possibility Button talked to Taylor? I don’t think so. And as such, the team will continue to go about its daily business, winning some but more often losing some, and never really threatening to break the .500 mark for the season.
Accept it Calgary, we’ve been played like a finely tuned instrument. The front office of the Flames put on a front for our sake. The owners never expected fans to show the kind of support they gave, and they were hoping to use it as an excuse to move the team as soon as humanly possible. Well, Mr. Hotchkiss, you have your wish. After the display that your company has put on this year, you can bet they won’t sell 14,000 tickets again this summer. Hell, you may not be able to give away 14,000 tickets next year.
So while the commitment was made for at least a two-year stay in Cowtown, you can bet your brand-new Jarome Iginla jersey (with the flaming horse head) the moving trucks will be knocking on the Saddledome’s door come next April.