SUN Hockey Pool

Flames face red ink

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:21 AM ET

Less than a year after making close to $12 million, the Calgary Flames are now staring at projected losses of $5 million if the NHL labour impasse wipes out the season. Yet, despite the sobering turn of events, team president Ken King tried to have a positive outlook yesterday, despite growing fan frustration and low morale at the 'Dome.

"No matter how ugly this is, nothing is worse than continuing to function in a dysfunctional system," said King, speaking for the first time since NHL owners locked out players Wednesday in search of a radically new collective bargaining agreement.

"We're apologetic to our fans, but not apologetic for what we've had to do here. We have to get through this and presumably it will open up a great opportunity.

"In many ways what (coach/GM) Darryl Sutter has managed to do with the team, he's done with one hand tied behind his back. Imagine what we might be able to do with a level playing field."

Sadly, it appears that fans won't be able to find out anytime soon as the two sides have no talks scheduled.

King said yesterday his club has lost $36 million over the last 11 years, which includes a modest $1 million profit during the 2003/04 regular season.

The close to $12 million profit accrued during the team's 12-game playoff home dates barely covered the losses of the previous two years.

The Flames will send out letters to all 14,653 of their season ticket holders today, outlining their options.

Beginning Oct. 13, the club will start adding interest of prime plus one percent to all those who've made deposits and payments on their accounts. At the end of each month the team will give customers the option of a refund based on the number of games missed.

"Right now the support we have from the fans is strong -- not just for the owners but for the move to fix the problems."

King said the club will remain active in the community and figured his players will likely continue to act in good faith when it comes to representing the club locally.

"That's the culture of our team," he said.


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