Roman empire returns

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

One Roman empire has had its day in the Stampede City.

Looks like we're in store for another.

The Calgary Flames announced yesterday they've inked Roman Hamrlik. According to the NHLPA's website, Hamrlik's salary will be $3.5 million US for the coming season.

Hamrlik has reportedly signed a two-year deal worth $7 million.

Of course, this brings about big question marks regarding the club's defence corps.

Hamrlik's addition gives Calgary six veteran rearguards on one-way contracts, a group that includes Robyn Regehr, Rhett Warrener, Jordan Leopold, Andrew Ference and Toni Lydman.

Steve Montador is the lone vet on a two-way deal but he likely wouldn't clear waivers, which may prevent him from being sent to the minors.

Plus, top prospect Dion Phaneuf all but appears ready to make the jump from the junior ranks.

That means the club is back to the same situation that facilitated Mike Commodore's trade to Carolina before the draft. And at $3 million US more against the salary cap.

Barring a deal, of course.

Stay tuned because even though GM/head coach Darryl Sutter can pretty much sit back and relax between now and when training camps open, there will still be plenty of action to follow in Flames country.

RINK RAP: Lynn Loyns also signed with Calgary, a deal worth $450,000 ... Today is the deadline for players to accept their qualifying offers. Watch for Chuck Kobasew, Matthew Lombardi and Brent Krahn to sign on the dotted line ... The club has until this afternoon to ink Eric Nystrom or the 2002 first-round pick will become an unrestricted free agent, as will be the case for any graduating college seniors. It's hard to believe Nystrom would go that route since he can sign for more money and receive better bonus clauses as a 2002 draft choice than he could signing an entry-level deal. Calgary product Curtis McElhinney, who's graduated from Colorado College, is also on the deadline.

ICE CHIPS: New Edmonton Oiler Chris Pronger to the Belleville (MO.) News-Democrat: "I don't think it will sink in until training camp that I'm not here. It's still very new and there's obviously a lot of stuff going on. It's not a death sentence; I'm certainly not dying." Going to Edmonton is no death sentence but it wouldn't be hard to find people in Calgary who'd call six years in the provincial capital a life sentence ... Congrats to Hitmen forward Karl Alzner, Okotoks product Keaton Ellerby, Cochrane's Justin McCrae and the rest of the Canadian team for winning the Under-18 Junior Cup tournament championship yesterday in Slovakia. Where are all those who questioned Canada's hockey program five years ago?

WORLD BEATERS: One word about the Stampeders performance Friday night against the B.C. Lions: YEEEEEIIIIIIIKKKES! ... Saddest part of the game wasn't the steady stream of turnovers, the inept offence or the the non-existent defence. It was the booing from fans when the atom kids were playing at halftime and one youngster was given a touchdown when it appeared he didn't cross the line. Folks, we're in Philadelphia Eagles fans territory with that kind of stuff ... Line of the day from yesterday's PGA Championship: "Phil Mickelson is sagging." ... No truth to the rumours Mickelson won the wet golf-shirt contest during the weather delay ... With his performance on the weekend, Mike Weir has elevated himself back to the status of a mediocre PGA player ... Glad Rush Limbaugh figures he can mediate a solution between Terrell Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles. Sorry but Owens doesn't need that kind of help. Barney the dinosaur might be more appropriate.


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