Media mayhem at 'Dome

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:02 PM ET


 The world came to Calgary for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and the 1989 Stanley Cup final. It's about to happen again.

 A media crush will hit the Saddledome when the Cup final shifts to Calgary Saturday and Flames director of communications Peter Hanlon is ready.

 "The finals are the showcase event for the National Hockey League, so the eyes of the hockey world are focused on Calgary," he said.

 "There's a lot more work, challenges and opportunities, of course, to expose our city, our team and our facility."

 Hanlon will get a helping hand from NHL officials in dealing with the media onslaught.

 In the Western Conference final, the Flames were required to make room for 125 accredited media members, plus two television crews (CBC and ESPN) and three radio-broadcast teams.

 A temporary pressbox was set up in Section 311 of the nosebleed seats. That area will be expanded to include Section 312 for the final.

 There will be 225 reporters attending the final in addition to four TV crews (RDS and NHL International join the fray) and three radio teams.

 "The requests are international," Hanlon says. "In the last round, we had Poland, Finland, Germany, Russia, Sweden.

 "In the final, it will be much broader and will include a lot more countries."

 Knowing they would be losing two sections of seats, the Flames have searched every corner of the 'Dome, looking for any possible space that could be used by fans.

 "The Playoff Zone hasn't been used since 1995," Hanlon says.

 "Every year, when we plan for the playoffs, we need to identify where in the arena we can accommodate the amount of media that would come upon us if we were successful enough to advance.

 "The best place is in the east upper loge. After we made the playoffs, we decided not only would we reserve that area for auxiliary press seating but we would open it up to allow more fans to come in.

 "We were able to find more areas within the building. In both of the upper loges, we were able to fill in some holes where seats didn't exist. We also put in some standing room, which the building hasn't had before.

 "So with the seats we'll lose up top, we're able to offset some of that with some of the other areas we've created. We'll keep the capacity at what it has been. We'll be right around the 19,289 for a sellout."

 In addition to making sure the media is looked after, Hanlon's top priority is his players.

 The Flames are known for being a friendly, talkative bunch. Don Cherry applauded the team for being so accommodating during a recent Coach's Corner.

 "That's leadership communicating how important that aspect of their role as a professional hockey player is," Hanlon says.

 "Right from (president) Ken King's office, through Darryl (Sutter) and down to the players. At the top of that group is the captain, Jarome Iginla."

 But there comes a time when Hanlon has to step in and bring to a halt the endless stream of questions.

 His players need rest and cannot be standing in front of microphones for hours.

 "Our job is to not only ensure players are available to the media but also to manage their time. We assist them so they're always doing what they need to prepare and be at peak performance for the games.

 "In no way, shape or form will we distract from that."


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