For all the jokes we’ve made over the years about your Calgary Flames playing golf, apparently it’s a big deal when they actually don’t.
If you hadn’t heard the news, and you probably didn’t because whatever, The Flames are not going to play in their annual charity golf tournament this Thursday.
In a hurricane of controversy with emotions ranging from "Who cares?" to "Huh, well yeah, I guess I didn’t know they had a golf tournament", the Calgary Flames Philanthropic Lovefest on the Links featuring none of the Calgary Flames will now feature some Calgary Flames.
The players were allegedly going to skip the perennial commitment to their Flames Foundation For Life (which to me sounds more like a thinly veiled threat than a charity) so that ALL members of the team, in an unprecedented showing of solidarity, could attend the coinciding CBA meeting between the NHL and the NHLPA in New York. Which would of course be the biggest display of teamwork the Flames have shown in about two and a half years, and a perceived slap in the bouche for all the hockey fans and celebrity gawkers who loyally purchased tickets to the event.
The masses were unsurprisingly nonplussed about this whole calamity. The contigency plan, borrowed from the NFL Referee Strike Survival Kit, was to replace the participating Flames players with "local celebrities" . Which makes sense, because the optics of having to refund money earmarked for the betterment of our city and the people who reside in it look even worse than not staging the contest in the first place.
But you can understand how ticket holders would be more excited to go rub elbows with Mike Cammalleri than they would be with that guy who does the overnight weekend shift on Shine 88.9 or Buckshot’s great niece or any other such local dignitaries.
(I was still waiting for my invitation, but I assume it was either lost in the mail, or they’ve seen my short game)
And yet, resolution
Then, like a steed-perched cavalier emerging from the mist of despiar, Matt Stajan, undoubtedly THE embodiment of Flames hockey we all trust and revere the most, set the record straight. With that trademark steadfast timbre that makes us all swoon, Matty Franchise assured us all that those who would not be in New York fighting the good fight would be at the Links of GlenEagles golfing the good golf.
So everyone wins, I guess. The Flames players took A LOT of heat for this one, and I guess they felt the public outrage made them look bad enough from a PR standpoint that it might as well have been an eye-witness account of Sven Baertschi murdering puppies.
Meanwhile, the irony here is that the Flames were to be absentee golfers off in the Big Apple contending with an atrocity which has ignored ten times the fan acrimony that the tournament ever faced. Stajan says it was a mix up and they never intended to have all the players miss the event. Everyone else says the Flames buckled under public pressure and flip flopped their way back into the good graces of Calgary. You, the noble Citizen, probably have your own unique, unencumbered opinion on the whole debacle.
I know I do. It goes a little something like this:
Golf or no golf, I think we can give the Flames a pass on this one. The boys in the Flaming C are pillars in the community. You might remember it was around this time last year the team participated in the Gay Pride Parade. Do the Townsend Tigers ring a bell? Indeed, if the Flames stay true to their impressive list of charity events and community initiatives (not to mention the countless amount of donations and foundations spearheaded by the individual players themselves), surely we, the faceless nobodies who never helped anybody do anything (what a bunch of jerks we all are) can take a breather from our usual dose of scorn.
Because the Flames were going to be sacrificing the tournament in support of another worthy charity: us. They were trying to save hockey, and by extension save The C of Red (and also a percentag of hockey related revenues, but let’s not quibble).
Let’s face it, we love hockey (or else, what the hell are you doing reading this in the first place, you gomer?). Professional hockey is played by them, but it’s all for us. We pay an excessive amount of our hard earned money on tickets, jerseys, heroin beer, nachos, merchandised golf bags, thongs, and stuffed Jarome Iginla buddies because hockey is a much needed distraction for us. An escape from our grim lives. We turn normal men into heroes, enigmas, and bearded legends and the occasoinal scapegaot because we thrive to romanticize hockey. As kids, we all imagined ourselves lifting up the Stanley Cup when we should have been doing our homework or cleaning our rooms (I’m a grown man who still does this).
Sure we complain about the money they make, or the money we spend, or Anton Babchuk, but at the end of the day, Gary Bettman’s theory on the matter rings true: (I’m paraphrasing here, but only a little bit) You all love hockey, so it doesn’t matter what we do, you sheep will come back and love us even harder until we do it to you all over again.
It’s hockey, and we all need it. Good on the Flames and the rest of the PA for going out to New York and trying to retrieve it for us.
So that’s why I’m all for the Flames jumping on the golf grenade, just this once, because they’re doing it for the goodwill of all of us. The CBA meeting this week is the fundraising event of the year, and none of us will even remember that the tournament is even a thing if we all have hockey back in our lives, distracting us from that damn periphery that haunts us in the rest of our waking hours.
In the immortal words of Happy Gilmore: Talk about a Hole in One