The Calgary Flames are headed to China! The Flames announced yesterday that they’ll be playing a pair of preseason games with the Boston Bruins: Sept. 15 in Shenzhen and Sept. 19 in Beijing. But based on what happened with the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings with their Chinese excursion last season, we can project a few impacts on the Flames’ preseason routine.
The Shenzhen game will open the Flames’ preseason schedule
Under the CBA, nobody can play preseason games before the fourth day of training camp. Since the game in Shenzhen is on Sept. 15, that means the latest that training camp will begin for the players going would be Sept. 12 – and it’s unclear in the CBA if “training camp” means on-ice sessions or if the medicals count as a day.
Last season the Flames had three days of on-ice sessions prior to their first preseason game, so if the CBA means that training camp means on-ice sessions then medicals would be on Sept. 11, which may also be the day of the team’s golf tournament.
For comparison’s sake, the Canucks had three preseason games in the books before they hit the ice in China last year.
There will probably be multiple training camp groups
As of right now, all we know about the preseason for sure is that there’s a Penticton tournament happening Sept. 6-10. It’s unclear right now what the format is or if the Flames will be involved. But if they are involved, the timelines for that tournament and the likelihood that the veterans headed to China will have to do medicals earlier than usual and be involved in the golf tournament probably requires things to get staggered a bit.
Consider this hypothetical scenario:
- The Penticton group does medicals and heads to Kelowna Sept. 5, then plays Sept. 6-10 and heads back to Calgary the evening of the Sept. 10.
- The China group does medicals Sept. 11 (or earlier) and heads to China prior to Sept. 14. These guys likely also lose a day to the golf tournament and a day to travel – it’s a 14-hour flight to Shenzhen – so their first week of camp will be a bit chaotic.
- The players that don’t play in Penticton and don’t go to China – the AHL guys, mostly – likely do medicals on Sept. 13 and can play their first preseason game on Sept. 17. Presumably the Penticton graduates join this group until the China group returns on Sept. 20.
The timelines are based on the presumption that the Flames will be involved in the Penticton tournament, but you can see how complex the logistics are with 50 players in Flames camp playing on two freakin’ continents.
The Flames probably keep a lot of players around until mid-September
The Canucks took 24 players to China last year and that group was very veteran-heavy. They were also playing games in North America, so until the NHL regulars returned from overseas they had to carry around 50 players. Given that the Flames will probably be playing preseason games here, too, they’ll have to have enough bodies to have two complete rosters and account for freak injuries. If you’re coming to any preseason games in North America early on, you’re going to see a very prospect-heavy group.
The Canucks and Kings did their big culls close to the end of September last year, but because the Flames are playing their China games a week earlier they’ll probably be able to trim things down by Sept. 24 or 25. Until then? Make sure you keep a roster sheet handy.
The Flames probably only play three preseason games at the Saddledome
The Flames played seven preseason games last season: four at home and three on the road. The China games last season effectively replaced a home preseason game for both Vancouver and Los Angeles. Presuming that the Flames got the same deal as the other teams did, they’ll play seven preseason games this season and aside from the pair of games in China, they’ll play three games at the Saddledome and two elsewhere.