Fever pitch

BRET HART -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

 What an amazing time to be in Calgary.

 Have you noticed we're maybe just a little detached from the problems of the world -- even if just for a while?

  Who wants to worry about the elections on either side of the border when, instead, we can watch the team nobody was worried about turn the hockey world on its ear.

 Last week, I made a point of wading through the Sea of Red on 17th Ave., where Flames fans celebrated above and beyond the call of duty.

 Don Cherry said it a few weeks ago and I'll say it again now: What a super job the Calgary police have done controlling the masses while not being killjoys.

 The police are celebrating, too. Mind you, I don't envy them for a minute. However, everyone's just so into it. It's a beautiful thing.

 Calgarians should be proud of the fine example we've set for sports fans all over the world who sometimes aren't quite so civilized.

 Tonight should be one of the greatest nights in the history of this fine city and what an opportunity for us to show the world how much this team means to all of us.

 I suppose it's easy for me to say now but I did predict our beloved Flames would win the Cup in six games. I should have put money on it.

 Apparently Hulk Hogan -- and all his prayers and vitamins -- weren't enough Thursday night when the Lightning couldn't get the job done in overtime.

 Earlier in the week, it seemed like referees Kerry Fraser and Brad

 Watson were looking for some work in the off season, possibly with the WWE!

 Or, perhaps they'll make things simpler for everybody by putting on a Lightning jerseys instead of zebra stripes.

 I think it's fair to say nobody really expected this much from the Flames. Most of us were happy just getting into the playoffs but through each series, the entire team dug that much deeper. Now, the far-off dream of the Stanley Cup not only coming back to Canada but to Calgary has ignited a special patriotism across the country.

 I don't think the Americans understand it because they don't understand how seriously we take our national sport.

 The real test is tonight for the Tampa Bay Lightning. To come all the way up here and try to regain what they in all likelihood lost, to silence the frenzied Flames fans and to force a Game 7, will be, for every one of the Lightning players, the challenge of a lifetime.

 Too bad they're in for a letdown.

 The bottom line is behind every great team, you'll find great fans and there is no better example of that than right here in Calgary.


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