SUN Hockey Pool

Flames players take a mulligan on annual golf tourney attendance

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:21 AM ET

CALGARY - Maybe it's a mulligan.

Maybe it was, as Calgary Flames union rep Matt Stajan termed it Tuesday afternoon, a “mix-up.”

Either way, some current players will attend the Flames Celebrity Charity Golf Classic, which starts with Wednesday's registration luncheon at the Saddledome and continues Thursday with tee-times at Country Hills and the Links of GlenEagles.

About 10 Flames players, including Stajan and captain Jarome Iginla, will attend NHLPA meetings in New York, but some of those that can't make it to the Big Apple will tee it up instead.

“We think it's important that we do have representation there. It's just unfortunate we all can't go,” Stajan said Tuesday afternoon.

“The Flames Foundation is very important to the players. We're very involved in charities in Calgary and Alberta and our hometowns, and I think it's important that guys do go to that tournament that aren't going to the meetings.

“The goal was to have as many guys as possible at the meetings, because we do want hockey to start on time and that's the most important issue right now. But the guys who can't make it will be going to the golf tournament. There should be a handful of guys in Calgary that will be at the tournament representing all of us.”

That's a different story from Monday morning, when word spread the players had notified the team en masse they would not be attending the annual golf event, instead keeping their schedules clear to attend an NHLPA briefing that's expected to bring together as many as 300 skaters from around the league.

Before Tuesday's change of heart, the Flames players were being ripped on fan message boards and the Twitterverse. Stajan insisted it was simply a misunderstanding, although a team press release didn't exactly tell the same story.

“We were pleased to be informed by our players group today that several members of the team will be participating in our annual golf event,” said Flames president Ken King in a statement.

“The players who are not attending the NHLPA meetings this week in New York and are in the city already for camp have advised us that they will be swinging the clubs for the Flames Foundation for Life.

“We respect and understand the scheduling conflict that exists and appreciate that our available players have made the decision to participate.”

A list of players expected to attend was not immediately available. Coaches, alumni members and other local celebrities will fill out the lineup of high-profile divot-diggers.

A pre-season staple since 1981, the Flames Celebrity Charity Golf Classic has raised more than $4.3 million for the Flames Foundation for Life.

The golf tournament usually signals the unofficial start of training camp, although that won't be the case this fall.

The NHL and NHLPA will reportedly meet Wednesday morning in New York, but a lockout still seems like a certainty. The current collective bargaining agreement expires Saturday, and all indications are the two sides remain far apart.

“Right now, our goal is to get a deal done and that's why we have so many guys that are going to these meetings,” Stajan said.

“We just want to play hockey. I think that's the No. 1 goal for ourselves and for the fans and for the sport, and hopefully the owners will respond the same way and we can get a deal done.

“There's going to be over 300 players (in New York) from across the league, and I think that shows how much us players care about getting a fair deal and getting a deal done so that no time is missed. Because obviously that's not fair to the game of hockey or the fans.”


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