Flames last hope for Canadian fans

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET


 The small-market Calgary Flames have officially become Canada's team.

 With the elimination of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, the Flames are the only remaining Canadian franchise in these NHL playoffs.

 Even if the Leafs managed to force a Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Flames' work ethic and dedication have won the team plenty of backers across the country.

 "They've all embraced this team because of the type of people that they are," said club president Ken King a day after the Flames eliminated the Detroit Red Wings to advance to the Western Conference final.

 "Our goal, like a heat-seeking missile, was to make it into the playoffs. I think that was the stated goal of the people who now own the spirit of this team, which as we all know is all Calgarians, maybe all Southern Albertans, maybe all Canadians ..."

 Perhaps even Edmontonians.

 "Yeah," continued King, somewhat surprised by his own answer. "Actually, I got a letter from the mayor of Edmonton. He's not a bandwagon jumper. He sent the letter as we were in the first round giving us support. And I've had calls from some of the Oiler personnel and some other people from there."

 The president has even fielded phone calls from the man who's likely lost the most because of the Flames surprising run.

 "I spoke with Brian Burke (yesterday)," said King of the former Canucks GM whose contract was not renewed by Vancouver, the Flames' first-round victims. "Brian has been a great help to me. I'm not sure it's a secret but Brian was one of the people I spoke to about (hiring) Darryl (Sutter), so he had a hand in (our success) as it turns out."

 And it's not over yet. So hope the Flames and their fans, now reaching into the far corners of the country.


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