Stanley heads down the 'Dome stretch

MELISSA RIDGEN, MICHELLE MARK AND NADIA MOHARIB --Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:57 PM ET

  Bring it home to the 'Dome, Jarome.

 The eyes of the nation will be on Calgary today as the Flames try to bring the Stanley Cup home to the city for the first time in 15 years and back to Canada for the first time in 11 years.

  Vancouver resident Tannis Grant says she hasn't taken her eyes off the Flames since they beat the Canucks in Round 1 of the playoffs.

 "Some people are sore that Calgary beat Vancouver and won't cheer for the Flames," she said.

 "I tell them to get over it.

 "This has been a long time coming for the Flames and they've put up with a lot of (guff) from the rest of Canada ... a Stanley Cup win would do them good -- they deserve it."

 In Montreal, hockey fan Annabelle Olivier said she's impressed with the enthusiasm of Calgary fans.

 "Calgary fans are way louder," she said.

 On the fence about who she's cheering for, Olivier said while she feels bad that Tampa Bay captain Dave Andreychuk has been in the NHL for 20 years without a Stanley Cup ring, she can't help but be impressed by Jarome Iginla.

 "He's a very likable guy," she said.

 "I can't help but be swayed by him."

 According to a recent poll, the majority of Canadians are betting the Calgary Flames will bring home the Cup.

 The poll, done by Calgary-based JMCK Polling at the start of the series between Tampa Bay and our home team, interviewed 1,351 Canadians on who would win the Cup with 81.2% putting their faith in Calgary and 18.8% going with the Bolts.

 Stanley Cup TV ratings, meanwhile, continue to rise in Canada and struggle in the U.S.

 CBC's broadcast of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final between the Flames and the Lightning drew 3.45 million viewers.

 Comparatively, last year's Game 4 between New Jersey and Anaheim drew just 1.56-million viewers.

 The record audience for a sporting event in Canada, with more than 10 million English and French-language CBC viewers, was the Canadian men's gold medal hockey win over the U.S. at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.

 And as the nation watches Game 6 -- with the Flames up 3-2 in the series -- fans here at home are waiting with open arms to welcome the Stanley Cup to Calgary.

 "Let the Cup runneth right on over here!" said fan Chris Jensen.

 Kari Newman said she's looking forward to the bragging rights the Cup would bring to Calgary.

 "The Flames have already made everyone really proud," she said.

 "But the Cup would make a nice trophy to show for all the Flames' hard work."

 Looking ahead to tonight, Stampede Park officials say parking is limited due to pre-scheduled events and are asking Flames fans to take public transit to the 'Dome or park at the north end.

 Calgary police are optimistic the Red Mile won't become the road to hell after the hockey game.

 But they're prepared if things turn ugly.

 An undisclosed number of Edmonton Police Service and RCMP officers have been brought in to patrol areas outside the downtown, with Calgary cops to free-up CPS officers to work the core.

 They'll focus mainly on 17 Ave. S.W., the unofficial party hub of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

 More than 50,000 fans flooded the avenue after the Flames' 3-2 overtime victory Thursday night and if the team wins the Cup tonight, police expect an even larger crowd in the 60,000-to-100,000 range.

 A worst-case-scenario plan is in place in case revellers turn criminal, though Insp. Dan Jahrig doubts Calgarians want to tarnish their hard-partying but law-abiding image.

 "We have strategies in place ... to make sure everyone can celebrate safely," Jahrig said. "I believe Calgary has a very positive attitude around this event."

 But one Calgary teen has the scars to prove not everyone is there for good-spirited fun. Zack Button, 17, was walking home from 17 Ave. festivities after 3 a.m. Friday when he was robbed of his jacket and $50 at knife-point then cracked in the face with a steel pipe.

 A woman found him in a pool of his own blood and called police.

 - - -

 FLAMES FANS ARE STOKED!

 Free Darryl!

 One fan is hoping Calgarians want to free Flames coach and GM Darryl Sutter from a possible $100,000 fine for his comments slamming the NHL for a bias against his team.

 Chiropractor Glen Farn, with the help of the Mcleod and Company law firm, is setting up a trust fund at the Bank of Montreal in the name "Coach Darryl Sutter," with any money left over going to a charity of Sutter's choice.

 "If people don't agree, they don't have to step up," said Farn. "But hopefully it will turn into a nice, fat day for a charity."

 Farn said Sutter's comments about the NHL being against the Flames may have been ill-advised, but they weren't incorrect.

 The trust fund is expected to be set up Monday.


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