Calgary hockey fans are very conflicted about the 2024 Stanley Cup Final

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
This article is brought to you by bet365.
The 2024 edition of the Stanley Cup Final begins on Saturday night. The Calgary Flames are, unfortunately for their fans, not participating. Typically that would keep fan interest throughout Calgary in the series low.
However, two teams with some fairly big connections to the Flames are battling for the Cup over the next two weeks, and it’s difficult for Flames fans to be indifferent about the series.
Representing the Western Conference are the Edmonton Oilers. Hailing from the Shelbyville to Calgary’s Springfield, the Oilers are the Flames’ most bitter historical rival. Heck, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector wrote an entire book about how much these two teams – and cities – don’t get along. The Flames and the Oilers have clashed many times, with their recent playoff match-up resulting in a second-round series victory for Edmonton in 2022… and preceded the Flames’ recent downturn.
Calgarians tend to be proud of their city, province and country. Aside from a small portion of us that were born in town, a large proportion of Calgary’s residents – and by extension, Flames fans – are here because they chose Calgary. In the noise of the playoffs and pronouncements of the Oilers as “Canada’s team” and for hockey fans across the country to get behind Connor McDavid’s team, for a lot of fans the Edmonton of it all trumps their patriotism. In short, even the most casual of Flames fans would have a tough time cheering for the orange and blue to win the Stanley Cup – even with the presence of respected former Flames fourth-liner Derek Ryan and dependable depth defender Brett Kulak on their roster.
But then we need to consider Edmonton’s opponents.
Representing the Eastern Conference are the Florida Panthers. The Flames and Panthers don’t really have a ton of historical animosity; they’ve had some good regular season meetings, but nothing about the two franchises screams “bitter rivals.” However, the Panthers’ roster features three former Flames, two of them prominent first-round picks of the club.
The first of the three is Ryan Lomberg. Lomberg joined the Flames organization as a college free agent, first signed to an AHL deal and later working his way onto an NHL contract. Lomberg was a plucky minor-leaguer who got occasional NHL call-ups, but ended up landing in Florida as a free agent, which is where he became a full-time NHLer. There doesn’t seem to be very much ill-will towards Lomberg whatsoever from Flames fans.
Selected fourth overall in 2014, Sam Bennett was the highest-drafted player in Calgary Flames history, and he spent parts of six seasons with the Flames before being traded to the Panthers in 2021. Bennett thrived in the playoffs with the Flames, but struggled to really find a niche during the regular season with the club. He’s found another level to his game with the Panthers, which has a segment of the Flames fanbase wondering “why couldn’t he do that here?”
Selected sixth overall in 2016, Matthew Tkachuk was a flat-out excellent Flame. He found a niche on two really good lines; first with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik (on the 3M Line), and later with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm. But following the 2021-22 season, Tkachuk – then a pending restricted free agent with a year left before unrestricted free agency – informed management he didn’t desire to stay in Calgary long-term, which led to player and club working together on a trade that sent Tkachuk to Florida in a gigantic trade. The Flames’ fortunes have dipped since Tkachuk’s departure, with many fans viewing his exit as a betrayal, a very savvy business move, or the move that ended the club’s contention window. (Heck, many fans think it was all of those things.)
When we ran a poll on social media earlier this week, we received over 4,800 votes – and a lot of really well-written replies regarding why fans are cheering the way they are.
Even with a pair of prominent ex-Flames playing big roles for the Panthers, nearly 73% of the respondents are rooting for Florida over Edmonton. Old habits die hard, we suppose.
Enjoy the Stanley Cup Final everyone.

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