SUN Hockey Pool

Can't stay away

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

The ringing won't stop and Rollie Cyr is a happy man because of it.

Cyr, the Calgary Flames vice-president of sales, is busy thanks to the return of the NHL and the anticipated season -- ratcheted up another notch yesterday when the schedule was unveiled.

"A lot of people tried to block it out but now that it's here, they're so excited," Cyr said. "I have friends who were like that, wanted nothing to do with the NHL again, but now that it's back they're acting like kids."

Immediately after the lockout concluded, the Flames sold around 100 season tickets per day for a spell. That's only tailed off to about 80.

When the puck drops on the campaign, the club hopes to have 15,000 season tickets, the level reached when the 2003-04 season came to a finish.

Best of all, fears of a backlash from fans after the lockout have apparently been alleviated.

"We were pretty optimistic the support would be there," Cyr said, "but coming out of the chute like that really surprised me."

DEADLINE LOOMING: The buzzer goes off today at 3 p.m. Calgary time.

Selections from the 2003 draft who played in major junior must be inked by then or the Flames will lose their rights.

Calgary's situation is hardly dire. First-rounder Dion Phaneuf is already inked, while the deadline to sign second-rounder Tim Ramholt has been extended by two years thanks to his decision to return to Switzerland.

That leaves the Flames with decisions on five players: Ryan Donally (97), Jamie Tardif (112), Tyler Johnson (173), Cam Cunning (240) and Kevin Harvey (270).

Donally, a 6-ft. 4-in., 227-lb. left winger, is coming off a disastrous season in which he suffered a concussion and compiled only three goals in 60 games split between Windsor and Kitchener.

Tardif's season was the opposite. The 6-ft. 205-lb. centre had a 31-goal season just before the club drafted him but struggled to 25 goals in 2003-04. However, he had a solid bounce-back campaign this past winter, with 37 goals and 65 points during the regular season with Peterborough.

Johnson, a centre, had a 10-goal, 29-point season with the WHL's Red Deer Rebels, while Cunning potted 17 goals in a season split between Kamloops and Vancouver.

Harvey spent the season in Ontario's junior A loop after toiling with Owen Sound in 2003-04.

CRAZY?: Gotta like the silly season. With rumours abounding about players wanting to come to Calgary -- Scott Niedermayer, Eric Lindros -- it's a fun time of year.

Niedermayer may want to come out west and maybe even play for Calgary but there are a couple of things that may pour cold water on that: His apparent desire to be paid $7 million (since Sutter said the team won't have another high-price guy) and Calgary's depth on the blueline.

Talk of Eric Lindros may sound odd at first glance but there may be some validity.

Lindros may have had his walnut cracked a few times but he likely can't ask for huge guarantees, which will make him enticing.

As a centre, he'd have the option of rejuvinating his career in a big way by skating alongside Jarome Iginla.

Lindros would help Iginla immensely, too, giving him space as well as being able to dig the puck out of corners.

Then again, players and their agents could be using it as leverage.

We'll find out when the free-agent rush begins Monday.


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