SUN Hockey Pool

Flames eye thermometer

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

CALGARY - Two days before the Heritage Classic, and things started getting physical down at the Dome.

No, not on the ice, but in the dressing room, where cameramen bumped into one another and scribes fought for space in a scene eerily reminiscent of the Calgary Flames run to the 2004 Cup final.

Even in the hallways, quarters were tight, as the Flames and the Montreal Canadiens were wedged into rooms alongside the AHL's Abbotsford Heat and the Oklahoma City Barons.

With close to 200 accredited journalists doing their best to generate buzz on Sunday's shinny at McMahon Stadium, the players found themselves talking predominantly about two things: Weather and fashion.

"I'm definitely happy the game wasn't today," said Jarome Iginla with a laugh of Friday's -29C conditions that forced cancellation of the media game at McMahon.

"I was pretty excited for the game for awhile when I was hearing minus-2, minus-1 and plus-2, but now they're saying it'll be minus-10, so I'm not quite as excited. Maybe it will change still. If not, we'll make the most of it. I don't really know what to expect, so I'm just going to take it as it comes and not overthink it."

Of course, the captain isn't sure what awaits as he admitted he's never played a game outside before.

Teammates David Moss and Mark Giordano both have, and their respective advice revolves around changing underwear every period and wearing eye-black.

"I have sensitive eyes, and when I practised outside at the Spengler Cup, I kept squinting, so I'm going to try the eye-black (Saturday)," Giordano said. "Plus, it's a pretty cool look."

As far as fashion statements go, none of the players were quite sure what the Flames Heritage Classic uniforms said. Debuting striped gold and maroon socks with their off-white pants (and maroon stripe) during practice, the players bit their tongues when asked their opinions.

"I like the uniform, but I don't know about the pants," said Iginla, laughing when reminded one shouldn't wear tan pants after Labour Day.

"They could be an advantage because they could be mesmerized by the socks and make them dizzy," said Flames defenceman Steve Staois.

Flames head coach Brent Sutter was also at a loss for words when asked of the uniforms designed as a tribute to the Calgary Tigers of the 1920s.

"Cream-coloured pants are ... different," said the coach, who was then asked if he'd sport a Heritage Classic look of sorts. "Am I wearing a cream-coloured suit with a maroon stripe? We'll have a different look."

As it has been at the Dome the last few months, the mood was light, especially when talk turned to the elements. Will they have the wind in the third period?

"Depends if we win the coin toss," said Sutter, with a laugh. "We'll find that out, I guess."

What they found out Friday was the forecast changed dramatically the last 24 hours, setting up a much colder scenario than previously thought.

But a chilly practice Saturday at McMahon will do well to acclimatize a team that hasn't lost sight of the fact this is the most important NHL outdoor game ever played in terms of outcome.

Both the Flames and the Montreal Canadiens are in the midst of dogfights in their respective conferences, making the allure of Sunday's game even grander.

"It's a big event -- something the players should enjoy and have fun with, but it's something we need to be focused on," Sutter said.

"As exciting as it is, we haven't really been talking it up or getting overly excited about it because that's what we were doing earlier in the year," added Iginla. "It is exciting and a big game, but it's two points we need to have."

After all, winning never goes out of fashion.

TWITTER.COM/ERICFRANCIS

Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on The Hotstove on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada


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