They weren't expecting to find out general manager Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod had been fired.
"There's definitely a shock factor," forward Mike Cammalleri said. "You wake up and go to work and things change, but at the same time, with (president of hockey operations) Brian [Burke] coming and us being in the position we're in, not just management but coaches and players are aware that we've got to get results."
The Flames haven't gotten results through the first third of the season. Calgary is 13th in the Western Conference with an 11-15-4 record and is on track to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.
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Burke felt the Flames' rebuild wasn't progressing fast enough.
He let them know.
"We got to the rink this morning, Burke called a meeting -- all the players, all the staff, trainers -- and let us know," forward Matt Stajan said. "That's one thing. Any team where Burke's been the GM, he lets everybody know. He's a straight-up guy and lets everybody know where they stand. He tells us exactly what he's thinking and that's what he did this morning.
"He told us the direction the organization is going and what he wants to see.
"He told us to keep working hard and do our job. Obviously, we've got to be better, especially holding third-period leads, and that's no secret and we know that."
The Flames have experienced growing pains in the initial stages of a rebuild this season after parting with captain Jarome Iginla and veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester in advance of last season's NHL Trade Deadline and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff's retirement in September.
But a new, youthful core is not an excuse to struggle, according to first-year captain Mark Giordano.
"If you look at our record, it's not where we want to be, and we have to change it as players," he said. "You could call it whatever, but the bottom line is this is an organization -- I've been here for a while, now -- and right from our owners down, we want to win. Nothing else is acceptable.
"We've got to start winning hockey games and push this forward.
For the Flames, that starts with the Hurricanes despite the announcement Thursday.
"There's never a good time to hear news like that," Stajan said. "Go home, have a pre-game nap, get some food into us and come ready to play a game. We're professional hockey players, stuff like this happens, it [stinks], it's a tough part of the business, but you have to find a way to make sure you're ready."
"Our job doesn't change for [Thursday]," Giordano said. "We've got to come out, play hard and get a win."