Flames await banner night

STEVE MacFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

It has been 15 months since meaningful NHL hockey has been played at the Saddledome and a real party took place prior to a Calgary Flames game.

That will change Oct. 13 when fans are treated to a pre-game ceremony featuring the unfurling of a new ornament for the rafters -- the 2003-04 Western Conference championship banner.

But don't hold your breath for a detailed description of what to expect from Calgary Flames president Ken King.

"For that, you'll just have to wait for the opening game," teased King, who is looking forward to the proceedings as enthusiastically as any fan from the Red Mile.

The Flames recaptured the hearts of many Calgarians during their unexpected run to the Stanley Cup final and the year-long delay caused by a lost season doesn't seem to have dulled their excitement.

"I think it's going to be very special for everybody who's been following and cares for this team," said King.

The new banner will take its place alongside those commemorating past Smythe and Pacific Division crowns, Presidents trophies and a couple of previous conference titles.

And, of course, the Flames' ultimate accomplishment -- the 1989 Stanley Cup championship.

Frenzied fans refuelled by the 2004 Cup run have returned in figurative droves to the ticket lines anticipating the return of NHL action.

Every home game of the upcoming campaign is expected to be a sellout and the Sea of Red will no doubt roar back to life even before the official ceremony begins.

The anticipation has been building since the announced return of Flames hockey and pre-season sellouts bode well for the home opener against the Dallas Stars.

"I think the pre-season atmosphere is setting the stage," said King.

"For the pre-season, it's been a pretty exciting environment.

"I can only imagine what it might be like for the home opener.

"It will be loud.

"Maybe not at the level reached during that magical run to the final but it will be close."


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