It was a shot that bounced off a pad, sailing past Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Vernon, that brought the 1991 dream to an end.
It was, of course, impossible to know it would end that way. A little more than a month prior, on March 4, 1991, Vernon was in the middle of outdueling Montreal Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy.
That same night, a still relatively unknown grunge trio known as Nirvana (possibly undersold on the poster only as being “from Seattle”) would play its first show in Calgary at the Westward Club, months before they would release Smells Like Teen Spirit and reach superstardom.
At that time, Catherine Ford was a columnist based at the Calgary Herald, trying to kick her smoking habit and consequently running into serious nicotine withdrawals.
“Let me put it this way,” Ford said. “Not that I remember a lot of the 1990s, but 1991 was a particularly, shall we say, efficacious year.”
Efficacious — productive and constructive — not just because Ford would eventually go on to dump her cigarettes, but also because she began to see the signs of a city in transition.
She watched as the city became one that was more culturally diverse, one that saw booms (and busts) and transformations in its downtown, a city that saw its homogenous political landscape begin to gradually evolve into something more complicated.
Still, headlines from the Calgary Herald from that year demonstrate that while some things change, others seem more familiar to the Calgary of today.
Take Ald. Barb Scott’s efforts in the Jan. 21, 1991, edition to convert empty buildings in downtown Calgary to housing in order to serve the city’s needy.
Or, a story from the Feb. 1 edition, which reported on high prices at the pump brought on by an ongoing conflict in the Persian Gulf.
In June 1991, Al Duerr was the mayor of the city, pushing back against a “fat cat” image of Calgary and worried about the spectre of federal cuts.
WATCH | Legendary Calgary goaltender Mike Vernon on the Battle of Alberta
The city had seen more than 4,300 Calgarians laid off in the previous six months, with NovAtel, Canada Packers and other energy companies among those axing positions.
However, Calgary’s unemployment rate was well below the national average. It had gained hundreds of new residents after TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. relocated to the city.
The concern, in Duerr’s eyes, was the federal government eyeing Calgary for cuts based on its “resilient spirit,” bouncing back even though the peak of the oil boom in the late 1970s appeared to be only in the rear-view mirror.
Today, Duerr sees many similarities between that period of time and the Calgary of today — and where the Battle of Alberta fits into it.
“Back in 1991, we were struggling. We’re struggling now, we’re coming out of a very difficult period,” Duerr said. “The Battle of Alberta gave us that opportunity to refocus.”
It was in that context that Alberta’s two hockey teams were set to clash in the first round, both organizations fresh off recent championship wins: the Calgary Flames in 1989, the Edmonton Oilers the very next year.
Doug Dirks, the former host of CBC’s The Homestretch, was in Calgary in 1991 doing a daily nationally-syndicated radio feature called the Faceoff Circle.
“There was so much excitement in the city. They were coming off of the 1989 Stanley Cup win and everybody thought that it was going to be a dynasty for the ages,” said Dirks, who became a full-time sports anchor and reporter for CBC in 1993.
The day before the puck dropped for Game 7 in Calgary at what was then called the Olympic Saddledome, 2,100 tickets went on sale in the morning, selling out in 50 minutes.
That Battle of Alberta went a full seven games and ended in heartbreak for the Flames faithful courtesy of the stick of Esa Tikkanen. He found the back of the net three times, with his overtime goal sealing the series for Oil Country, four games to three.
“There is no way to soft-pedal the Flames’ 5-4 loss. They choked, plain and simple,” wrote Calgary Herald sportswriter Eric Duhatschek in a post-mortem.
Four days later, at precisely 3 p.m., Ford put out her last cigarette. The Flames would go on to see a playoff drought, not winning another series until 2004.
At the Westward
Though fans went home dejected that night, Calgary’s future at that time seemed bright in other ways, especially if you weren’t a member of the Flames faithful.
To non-sports fans like Arif Ansari, who likely was at the Westward Club or the Republik Nightclub the night the team got the boot, 1991 was a time when the alternative music scene started to blossom, when there was excitement in the air.
Some early 1990s nights reached legendary status for Ansari, like when American heavy metal band GWAR played at the Westward Club and fans experienced first-hand the band’s schtick of spraying fake blood all over the audience.
“So there’s great stories of people coming home after that show, covered in all this fake blood and walking like a horde of zombies down 17th Avenue,” said Ansari, who runs the Calgary Cassette Preservation Society and is a local music archivist.
Some believed at that time that culturally Calgary could have become the next Seattle, said Mike Bell, the publisher of the Calgary-based monthly arts and culture publication The Scene.
“There was an excitement about music, about arts,” Bell said.
“People were spending money, people were going to theatre. People were wanting to get out, and artists here didn’t feel like they had to leave. Things were actually happening in Calgary.”
Tonight, the Flames and the Oilers will meet again in a renewed Battle of Alberta. Instead of Theoren Fleury and Tikkanen, this year’s matchup will be headlined by young superstars Johnny Gaudreau and Connor McDavid.
Since the 1991 matchup, Calgary has gone from Duerr, to Dave Bronconnier, to Naheed Nenshi, to Jyoti Gondek.
It’s gone from oil boom, to oil bust, to oil boom again, though this time with heightened urgency as to what comes next — both for the economy and for the climate.
It’s now home to more than 1.3 million residents, up from 750,000 in 1991 (and that’s not to mention bedroom communities like Chestermere, Alta., which has grown to more than 20,000, compared with 900 in 1991).
Ford, who has written thousands of columns about Calgary and Alberta, said she’ll continue to defend the place she calls home, no matter what comes next, even if talking about what makes it home can seem cliché — the big, blue wide sky, the mountains, the unpredictable weather that keeps residents on their toes.
“It’s all those intangibles that make you love something. That’s like asking me why I love my husband. Do I love him because he’s tall and handsome and good looking?” she said.
“No, none of those things. I love him because of who he is. I love this city because of what it is, and what it represents to all of us.”
Game 1 of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs between the Flames and the Oilers kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada
Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.
Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation
One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.
Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.
Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures
Examining the Casino’s Game Selection
Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.
Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.
Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support
Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.
Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms
Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.
In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.
Canadiens acquire Tanner Pearson, trade Casey DeSmith to Canucks
A third-round pick in 2025 also goes to Montreal in the deal completed Tuesday.
Pearson hasn’t played since suffering a broken hand last November during a game in Montreal.
Pearson, 31, had one goal and four assists in 14 games last season.
In 590 career games with the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, Pearson has 133 goals and 139 assists for 272 points.
The Kings picked the Barrie Colts product in the first round (30th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
Pearson is in the final year of a three-year contract with a cap hit of $3.25 million.
DeSmith, 32, has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2017-18. He was acquired by the Canadians in a three-team deal also involving the San Jose Sharks last month.
DeSmith was 15-16-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .905 save percentage last season.
In 134 career games, the undrafted DeSmith is 58-44-15 with a 2.81 GAA and .912 save percentage.
DeSmith is on the final year of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.
Blue Jackets GM, president admit fault in Babcock debacle, reveal more red flags
Days after Mike Babcock was accused of inappropriate workplace conduct by podcast host Paul Bissonette — with the retired NHL player claiming Babcock was forcing players to airplay personal photos on television in his office — Columbus Blue Jackets management addressed the debacle in a tense press conference at Nationwide Arena.
“It’s on us. It’s on me…. Sometimes you flat-out make a mistake. We made a mistake,” said Blue Jackets president of hockey ops John Davidson, per Associated Press reporter Stephen Whyno.
“Maybe they were right,” Davidson said of people who were critical of Mike Babcock’s hiring in the first place.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, meanwhile. said he apologized to Blue Jackets players this morning for hiring the embattled head coach.
“I believe that Mike Babcock deserved another opportunity to coach,” Kekalainen said. “Obviously that was a mistake and that responsibility’s mine.”
Still, even with the talk of accountability, Kekalainen detailed what should’ve been a red flag: Babcock apparently pulled the same phone stunt he was accused of pulling with his players on the 57-year-old executive.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Mike Babcock did the phone thing with him as well. “Personally I had no problem with it but I can see how it might put someone in an uncomfortable situation.”
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) September 18, 2023
But while Kekalainen stated he doesn’t believe there was any ill intent behind Babcock’s actions, he admitted that some of his players were not comfortable with his methods and that was concerning.
Blue Jackets majority owner John H. McConnell announced in a team-issued statement Monday morning that he does not anticipate further changes to the team’s leadership, erasing speculation that one or both of Kekalainen and Davidson would end up on the chopping block alongside Babcock.
“Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days,” McConnell’s statement read.
To say this story escalated rapidly would be the understatement of the century. Initially, it seemed like it would die quickly after both Babcock and captain Boone Jenner released statements through the team on Wednesday morning refuting the Spittin’ Chiclets host’s version of events.
Both Columbus’ captain and the now-former coach described their encounter as nothing more than a way of sharing snippets of one another’s life in an effort to build a working relationship. During an appearance on the 32 Thoughts Podcast on the same day as Jenner and Babcock condemned Bissonette’s comments, Blue Jackets star winger Johnny Gaudreau gave a similar account to Jenner when asked about his photo-exchange meet-and-greet with Babcock.
But the story didn’t end there, obviously, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting things changed on Wednesday night when the NHLPA received information that some of the younger Blue Jackets players were uncomfortable with their interactions with Babcock.
Friedman later reported that the information gathered on Wednesday night prompted NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and assistant executive director Ron Hainsey to begin an investigation before flying out to Columbus and leading what was described as an “intense” meeting.
On Friday, Walsh and Hainsey relayed their findings during a joint meeting with the NHL and NHLPA. Saturday was arguably the quietest day of the scandal in the public eye, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshinski, because that’s the day Columbus and Babcock started plotting his exit.
By Sunday, the Blue Jackets announced that Babcock had resigned and Pascal Vincent would be taking over as the team’s head coach.
Vincent, 51, had served as the Blue Jackets’ associate coach since the 2021-22 season. Before joining Columbus, Vincent spent 10 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets organization, serving as an NHL assistant for the first half of his tenure before pivoting to head coach of the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Vincent was named AHL Coach Of The Year for the 2017-18 season.
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