I was born in Calgary about 220 years ago.
As a young lad, I would be taken to Mewata Stadium to watch the local team lose a lot.
Later, in 1960, the Calgary Stampeders would move to McMahon Stadium on the U of C campus and I would move to Cold lake, Alberta but I always held my affinity for the Stampeders close to my heart and tonight my devotion has paid off with a Grey Cup victory!
I have to admit I am a little conflicted here. Brandon Banks, who stands 5’6″ and 150 ran a punt back for a TD that would have won the cup for Hamilton but it was called back due to an illegal block. It’s hard not to cheer for a player like Banks but it is what it is and I’ll take the win.
Which brings us to the ostensible “Battle of Alberta”.
There is no battle here folks.
The Calgary Flames are currently 2 points away from having the best record in the entire NHL. They have achieved that mark with an unrelenting work ethic, confidence and a management team that knows its ass from a hole in the ground.
Observers (mostly Oiler fans) believe the Flames will falter because they are riding unsustainable percentages and, while that is true to some degree, the Flames have achieved their record while missing 3 of their top 4 centres and a couple of wingers.
If you told an Oiler fan that they would be getting Mikael Backlund, Matt Stajan, Joe Colbourne, Sam Bennett and Mason Raymond added to their roster in the next 9 months, they would be over the moon. But the Flames have succeeded anyway.
What is even more important is to take a look at the teams’ current rosters and where they stand under the salary cap.
The Flames are loaded with centres…Monahan, Stajan, Backlund, Colborne, Bennett, Granlund, Knight, Jooris, Bouma, Reinhart.
The Oilers have TWO NHL calibre centres and a couple of maybes.
On D, the Flames have one of the best top pairings in the league with Giordano and Brodie and they have a very serviceable second pairing in Wideman and Russel. Wideman is likely overpaid but he does produce offence (13P in 24GP) which easily eclipses the “contributions” of train wreck defenseman Justin Schultz.
In goal, Jonas Hiller is sporting a .913 save percentage while the best the Oilers have to offer is Victor Fasth at .900.
But there’s the real kicker.
The Flames have the second lowest payroll in the league at $57 million while the Oilers are at $66 million.
This won’t even be close folks.