In the spring of 1980, a group of local businessmen introduced the National Hockey League to the City of Calgary. In the span of the last 24 years, the Calgary Flames have become one of the premier franchises in the NHL, both on and off the ice.
Of course the pinnacle of their storied history in Calgary was their crowning as Stanley Cup champions in 1989.
Over the years the Flames have provided many historic moments and memories. From the initial years in the Stampede Corral when Calgarians first developed their love affair with their new team, to the opening of the Saddledome that put Calgary on the map with a world class facility there are many favourite moments, games and players. Opening night, New Year’s Eve against the Montreal Canadiens, Lanny McDonald’s goal in the 1989 Cup Finals, and every Battle of Alberta.
But the spring of 2004 just might go down in Flames history as the most memorable of all. When a team of hard-working committed young men restored our game and our city’s name among the best. As general manager and head coach Darryl Sutter and his team rolled to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, they did more than just place the Flames on the brink of winning a Stanley Cup; they rallied a city that was bursting to show their true Calgary spirit.
In fact Calgary’s team became Canada’s team — they electrified a nation.
Since their move to Calgary, the team has won the following awards; Stanley Cup (1988-89); two Presidents’ Trophies, first overall, (1987-88, 1988-89); three Clarence Campbell Conference titles (1985-86), (1988-89) and (2003-04); two Smythe Division playoff championships; two Pacific Division titles; several NHL individual and team honors; and numerous attendance records.
However, the Flames mean more to Calgary than just their on-ice success.
The original mandate of the Flames ownership group was to ensure that this franchise would make a positive impact on the quality of life for all Calgarians.
Through various initiatives the Flames have touched the lives of thousands of people through their commitment to education, medical research, health, amateur sports and recreation.
With the creation and execution of interactive community-minded initiatives, the Flames and the Flames Foundation have directed more than $24 million in funding to important causes in southern Alberta. Flames players, owners, alumni, wives, management and staff are committed to building better communities through teamwork.
The Flames have made Calgary not only their home but also their motivation since May 21, 1980, when the Atlanta Flames became the Calgary Flames. On that day they moved from The Omni (capacity 15,141) to the Stampede Corral (capacity 7,242) and the Flames exchanged their fiery “A” to an explosive-looking “C”.
Calgary’s and the Flames’ first ever NHL game, in the Corral, was against the Quebec Nordiques Oct. 9, 1980, a 5-5 tie. The last game was a 6-5 playoff win over Edmonton April 18, 1983 in the Corral after which the Flames moved to their new home in the then-named Olympic Saddledome. The facility opened Saturday, Oct. 15, 1983 when Edmonton edged the Flames 4-3. The Flames formally assumed management of the Saddledome on August 1, 1994.
The Hitmen success story includes four consecutive final-four WHL appearances. On May 7th, 1999, the Hitmen captured the Western Hockey League Championship. In four short years the Hitmen went from a struggling expansion team to Champions. The Hitmen were originally owned by 18 private investors, including Bret the “Hitman” Hart, Theoren Fleury and Joe Sakic. In June of 1997 the Calgary Flames Limited partnership purchased the Hitmen. The Flames own and operate the Hitmen hockey club. The Hitmen play all home games in the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Calgary Roughnecks were awarded an expansion franchise in the National Lacrosse League in 2001. Since then, the Roughnecks have established themselves as one of the premier organizations in the NLL.
The team has captured the coveted Champion’s Cup twice in its history, most recently in May of 2009, when they defeated the New York Titans 12-10 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. In 2004, the Roughnecks won their first National Lacrosse League Championship in front of more than 19,000 screaming fans.
The 2009 season was also memorable for another reason. After starting out the season with five straight wins, the Roughnecks went on to finish with a league leading 12-4 record, giving the Calgary club home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Head coach Dave Pym enters his third season with the Roughnecks along with assistant coach Curt Malawsky. New to the coaching staff last year was a former NLL Coach of the Year, Bob McMahon, as the Roughnecks defensive coordinator as he now enters his second season with the team.
2011 promised to be another exciting year for the Calgary Roughnecks, as the team celebrated its 10th season in the National Lacrosse League. The team finished at the top of the league with a record of 11-5 during the regular season, including a six-game winning streak from February 20 to April 1, 2011. The Roughnecks season ended sooner than anticipated after losing to the Washington Stealth in the Western Final, wrapping up the season with a 1-1 playoff record.
Okotoks businessman Brad Banister was the principal owner and president from the club’s inception until June 14, 2011 and is considered to be the architect of the Roughnecks rapid rise to fame in the world of lacrosse. He’s also responsible for attracting the signatures of such stars as Tracey Kelusky, Kaleb Toth, Lewis Ratcliff and Taylor Wray over the years.
On June 14, 2011 the Calgary Flames Ltd. Partnership announced the purchase of the Calgary Roughnecks.
About the National Lacrosse League
Now in its 26th season, the National Lacrosse League (NLL), North America’s professional indoor lacrosse league, features the best players in the world. The league played its inaugural game in January of 1987, and was first known as the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League. In 1988, the name was changed to the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL). The MILL became the National Lacrosse League (NLL) following the 1997 season.
The National Lacrosse League plays box lacrosse, which is designed to combine the most exciting elements of box and field lacrosse. It incorporates the physical play of hockey with the high scoring, fast pace and play-making style of basketball. The game is played inside the confines of an ice hockey rink, with glass and rink boards intact. The playing surface is artificial turf, which is placed directly over the arena’s ice surface.
The NLL has 9 teams playing in the major markets of the United States and Canada. NLL teams each play a 16-game regular season schedule (eight home and eight away) that begins in January and runs through April, followed by the Champion’s Cup Playoffs. All games are played on the weekends.
Twenty-five goals are scored in the average NLL game. Indoor lacrosse is similar to basketball in terms of its frequent scoring, use of a shot-clock (30 seconds) and use of the over-and back-rule. When teams are on offense, they often spread the floor and pass the ball around in a manner similar to that of basketball.
Each team plays with five runners (forwards and defencemen) and a goaltender on the floor during the game. Each team dresses 18 players (16 runners and two goaltenders) per game, and the players rotate on and off the floor in shifts, similar to ice hockey. The game consists of four quarters, each 15 minutes in length. A game that is tied at the end of regulation is decided in five-minute sudden-death overtime. There are no tie games in professional indoor lacrosse.
The great majority of the Leagues players have full time jobs during the week. Many of the Leagues fans will tell you they enjoy the closeness to the players because they have everyday jobs like they do.