We didn't know if the Flames would be starting the season at home.
As the city's eyes were on Pittsburgh in the playoffs, and the Flames organization was preparing to enter its first official rebuilding season, massive flooding struck southern Alberta. The Saddledome, sitting pretty right alongside the Bow River, got hit hard.
The entire lower levels were decimated. Memorabilia was lost. As the city worked hard to get itself cleaned up for the Stampede, there was one conspicuous absence: no Saddledome access. You might be able to wander by the concourse, access the main Fan Attic and nothing more; enter a dark, creepy, silent world devoid of agricultural events, concerts, and three of four of Calgary's sports teams.
There was no way the Flames were going to be able to start the season at home. Speculation of playing extra games in Edmonton, or Saskatoon, or some other WHL rink abounded. Modify the schedule to put the Flames on the road to start the year. There's no way the 'Dome would be ready.
One unbelievable cleanup effort later, and the Flames were playing pre-season games at home as planned.
Tonight we say goodbye to the Saddledome until September, when we begin the journey into year two of the rebuild and watch new prospects compete for spots in a new pre-season.
As poor - albeit expected - a season the Flames had, they had a pretty decent time at home, posting a 19-18-3 record. They went through a simultaneously comical and aggravating shutout streak, setting a new record for longest home shutout at 196:56. But they also kept themselves hovering around .500. It wasn't a bad place to be, really.
So thanks for being around, bare bones operations and all. It's in the Flames' best interests to lose this game, but you know what... Just give us one last entertaining effort. Or another one goal game. You've been good at that. Let's close it out that way.