The Saddledome is going to be very, very busy this season
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
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For the past while, the Scotiabank Saddledome has been the regular home of the Calgary Flames, Calgary Hitmen and Calgary Roughnecks. Those teams were joined by the American Hockey League’s Calgary Wranglers in 2022-23, but the juggling act of fitting the Hitmen and Wranglers into the schedule resulted in the Hitmen play some games on the Tsuut’ina Nation.
In 2023-24, for the first time, every single Flames, Hitmen and Wranglers game (and probably every Roughnecks game, too) are slated to be played at the ‘Dome. The building’s schedule is shaping up to be busy and quite complex.
Here’s what we know so far regarding the wacky scheduling of the three hockey teams and 111 regular season home games.
There are nine days where multiple games are scheduled; the Flames are involved in just one double-header day.
- Oct. 28 (Sat.): The Wranglers host the Colorado Eagles at 1 p.m., followed by the Hitmen hosting the Red Deer Rebels at 7 p.m.
- Oct. 29 (Sun.): The Wranglers host the Eagles again at 1 p.m., followed by the Hitmen hosting the Portland Winterhawks at 6 p.m.
- Nov. 3 (Fri.): The Wranglers host the San Jose Barracuda at 1 p.m., followed by the Hitmen hosting the Everett Silvertips at 7 p.m.
- Nov. 5 (Sun.): The Wranglers host the Barracuda again, this time at noon, followed by the Hitmen hosting the Moose Jaw Warriors at 6 p.m.
- Nov. 25 (Sat.): The Wranglers host the Abbotsford Canucks at 1 p.m., followed by the Hitmen hosting the Edmonton Oil Kings at 7 p.m.
- Jan. 12 (Fri.): The Hitmen host the Spokane Chiefs at noon, followed by the Wranglers hosting the Ontario Reign at 7 p.m.
- Feb. 9 (Fri.): The Wranglers host the San Diego Gulls at 1 p.m., followed by the Hitmen hosting the Medicine Hat Tigers at 7 p.m.
- Feb. 10 (Sat.): The Hitmen host the Moose Jaw Warriors at 2 p.m., followed by the Wranglers hosting the Gulls again at 7 p.m.
- Mar. 24 (Sun.): The Hitmen host the Swift Current Broncos at 1 p.m., followed by the Flames hosting the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m.
Weekend home games
We mentioned in our season-ending attendance discussion that weekend home games are the cat’s meow for the Hitmen and Wranglers. The Flames are the big-time team and they tend to draw based on opponent regardless of day of the week.
But the minor-pro team and major-junior team tend to draw more of a family crowd, which really means they have a tough time drawing on school nights (regardless of how good the opponent is).
Here’s how the three teams split the Friday, Saturday and Sunday home games:
- Fridays (0): None.
- Saturdays (11): Two games at 2 p.m. (Dec. 9 vs. Devils, Feb. 17 vs. Red Wings), two games at 5 p.m. (Nov. 18 vs. Islanders, Mar. 16 vs. Canadiens), seven games at 8 p.m. (Dec. 2 vs. Canucks, Dec. 16 vs. Lightning, Jan. 20 vs. Oilers, Jan. 27 vs. Blackhawks, Mar. 2 vs. Penguins, Mar. 30 vs. Kings, Apr. 6 vs. Oilers)
- Sundays (3): Two games at 6 p.m. (Dec. 31 vs. Flyers, Apr. 14 vs. Coyotes), one game at 7 p.m. (Mar. 24 vs. Sabres)
The NHL regular season is 27 weeks long in 2023-24, so 11 Saturday night home games (and 14 weekend home games overall) isn’t bad. The weird thing is that the first traditional 8 p.m. Hockey Night in Canada home game isn’t until Dec. 2., eight weeks into the regular season.
- Fridays (9): Three games at 1 p.m. (Nov. 3 vs. Barracuda, Feb. 9 vs. Gulls, Mar. 29 vs. Barracuda), one game at 6 p.m. (Dec. 29 vs. Canucks), five games at 7 p.m. (Feb. 8 vs. Moose, Jan. 5 vs. Silver Knights, Jan. 12 vs. Reign, Mar. 1 vs. Eagles, Apr. 12 vs. Canucks)
- Saturdays (5): Two games at 1 p.m. (Oct. 28 vs. Eagles, Nov. 25 vs. Canucks), three games at 7 p.m. (Jan. 6 vs. Silver Knights, Feb. 10 vs. Gulls, Mar. 9 vs. Reign)
- Sundays (7): Two games at noon (Nov. 5 vs. Barracuda, Mar. 3 vs. Eagles), four games at 1 p.m. (Oct. 28 vs. Eagles, Nov. 26 vs. Canucks, Feb. 10 vs. Moose, Mar. 31 vs. Barracuda), one game at 6 p.m. (Mar. 10 vs. Reign)
(That’s 21 of 36 home games on the weekend.)
Credit where credit’s due: the Wranglers did quite well with weekend afternoon games in their inaugural season, and they have a bunch of them in 2023-24… but they’re still doing a decent amount of evening games, likely with the idea of giving the Hitmen some matinees for their schedule, especially on Sundays. The Friday “hockey hooky” matinee games return, albeit only three of them.
- Fridays (12): One game at noon (Jan. 12 vs. Chiefs), 11 games at 7 p.m. (Sept. 22 vs. Tigers, Oct. 20 vs. Thunderbirds, Nov. 3 vs. Silvertips, Nov. 10 vs. Oil Kings, Nov. 17 vs. Rebels, Dec. 15 vs. Tigers, Jan. 19 vs. Blades, Jan. 26 vs. Wheat Kings, Feb. 9 vs. Tigers, Feb. 23 vs. Wild, Mar. 8 vs. Rebels)
- Saturdays (3): One game at 2 p.m. (Feb. 10 vs. Warriors), two games at 7 p.m. (Oct. 28 vs. Rebels, Nov. 25 vs. Oil Kings)
- Sundays (14): One game at 1 p.m. (Mar. 24 vs. Broncos), seven games at 2 p.m. (Oct. 1 vs. Blades, Oct. 22 vs. Hurricanes, Dec. 17 vs. Broncos, Jan. 7 vs. Oil Kings, Jan. 14 vs. Americans, Jan. 28 vs. Pats, Feb. 25 vs. Hurricanes), four games at 4 p.m. (Dec. 3 vs. Raiders, Jan. 21 vs. Raiders, Feb. 4 vs. Oil Kings, Mar. 17 vs. Hurricanes), two games at 6 p.m. (Oct. 29 vs. Winterhawks, Nov. 5 vs. Warriors)
(That’s 29 of 34 home games on the weekend.)
Yes, the Sunday start times a little all over the place. But you have to appreciate how largely consistent the Friday and Saturday starts are: almost always at 7 p.m. The theme of the Sunday games appears to be “whatever fits in the building’s schedule.” But the Teddy Bear Toss in December remains in its traditional 4 p.m. start time, which is as close to unchangeable as anything can be in this crazy world.
Long story short: the NHL schedule is generally prioritized, as it’s determined by TV schedules and the availabilities of 31 other (very busy) buildings. The AHL and WHL schedules can be a bit of a hodge-podge, but they seem to have struck a good balance between the Wranglers and Hitmen in regards to prime times for their intended audience.
Four or more events on consecutive days
Between 111 home games for the Flames, Wranglers and Hitmen, and a bunch of concerts, the ‘Dome will be very busy. There are a bunch of very busy stretches where four or more events are scheduled for consecutive days, which should be pretty taxing on the building’s staff and ice plant.
- Sept. 28-Oct. 3: six events in six days (concert, Flames/Oilers pre-season game, concert, Hitmen/Blades game, Flames/Jets pre-season game, concert)
- Oct. 24-29: eight events in six days (Flames/Rangers, concert, Flames/Blues, concert, two Hitmen & Wranglers double-headers)
- Nov. 14-18: five events in five days (two Wranglers/Condors games, Flames/Canucks, Hitmen/Rebels, Flames/Islanders)
- Nov. 25-27: four events in three days (Hitmen & Wranglers double-header, Wranglers/Canucks, Flames/Golden Knights)
- Dec. 5-10: six events in six days (Flames/Wild, Hitmen/Broncos, Wranglers/Moose, Flames/Devils, Wranglers/Moose)
- Dec. 15-18: four events in four days (Hitmen/Tigers, Flames/Lightning, Hitmen/Broncos, Flames/Panthers)
- Jan. 18-21: four events in four days (Flames/Leafs, Hitmen/Blades, Flames/Oilers, Hitmen/Raiders)
- Jan. 25-28: four events in four days (Flames/Jackets, Hitmen/Wheat Kings, Flames/Blackhawks, Hitmen/Pats)
- Feb. 9-10: four events in two days (two Hitmen & Wranglers double-headers)
- Mar. 1-4: four events in four days (Wranglers/Eagles, Flames/Penguins, Wranglers/Eagles, Flames/Kraken)
- Mar. 16-20: five events in five days (Flames/Canadiens, Hitmen/Hurricanes, Flames/Capitals, two Wranglers/Condors games)
We’ll note that the National Lacrosse League season usually begins in December and features nine regular season home dates (and usually one pre-season game in November), so the Saddledome schedule between December and March will get a little bit more full once the Roughnecks’ schedule is announced.
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