SUN Hockey Pool

Tale of two teams

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

Calgary's top two professional sports teams returned home from road trips Sunday to radically different responses.

The Stamps, who've played second fiddle the last two months as the city mapped out Stanley Cup parade routes, have suddenly emerged as the hottest team in the CFL -- a club that has quietly grown into a Grey Cup contender with six wins in seven outings.

The Flames, whose preseason praises bumped the Stamps closer to the obits than the front page, are suddenly being inundated with the sort of questions the Stamps once answered.

Namely: What's wrong?

Things are so bad that on his Halloween rounds last night with his 18-month-old caterpillar and seven-month-old chicken, Shean Donovan said he'd opt not to go out as a hockey player.

After all, as the joke went, with one goal in

13 games, who would've believed him?

"I'll go as some toothless bum, I guess," shrugged the gap-toothed winger.

Kidding aside, the stark reversal of fortune between the two franchises has the Stamps attracting the sort of water-cooler, talk-radio kudos the Flames received until the puck dropped -- a fact not lost on Henry Burris.

"Going into this season, probably not many thought we'd get into this situation," said the QB spearheading the Stamps' late charge.

"We've overcome a lot of obstacles to get into this position but we're not satisfied. Right now we still don't expect anyone to show us any love. Everyone's talking about B.C., Edmonton and Toronto but, hey, we wouldn't want to be in any other situation. We control our destiny and, if we keep winning, the season will get even bigger."

So will the hype that, well, used to be monopolized by the NHL Flames.

"I wish we were both getting an equal amount of the limelight but I'm sure people will be more vocal about our (4-7-2) start now that we're back here in Calgary," said injured Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr, a longtime CFL fan who could make his season debut against Vancouver Saturday.

"I know each guy in this room wishes we could be better and we're working towards that. We've got four games here and that can bring us back above .500. We've got to make the 'Dome a tough place to play and establish that Flames identity."

That identity includes a raucous crowd that will do its part to help the Flames out of its funk the very same way it lifted the Stamps through a similar 4-6 start.

Stamps owner Ted Hellard isn't worried about the local NHL club.

"The Flames are at the beginning of the season and I'm comfortable they'll get to where they need to be," he said.

"As far as we're concerned, we're just going about doing our business as we said we would. I think it's a focused group that settles into its own little arena and I don't think it bothered them that much that they were not getting that attention."

As a matter of fact, the Flames may have helped the Stamps' situation 10 games in by stealing the headlines at a time when pressure was mounting.

Perhaps now the 10-7 Stamps can return the favour by clinching a home playoff date Sunday with a win over Edmonton, buying the Flames time to find secondary scoring.

"It's hockey, it's Canada," said Stamps linebacker Scott Coe, who expected the Flames to dominate the news last month. "Hey,

I was born and raised playing hockey -- I love it. Whoever is in the foreground, so be it ... Granted, I never would have expected the Flames to start like this but it's early."

Those words sound awfully familiar.


Videos

Photos