Upon arriving at the Pengrowth Saddledome for the gameday morning skate, it was obvious something was up. A three-car calvacade, all black vehicles, and a few other trailers were proceeding down Olympic Way towards the 'Dome.
It was just 9:30 in the morning, a time that is normally very quiet save for the usual media heading into gather information prior to the game. But something was certainly different on this morning.
Once inside the building it clicked. 'Are you here to cover sports or politics," asked a nice, young lady I had never seen before. I quickly answered sports, having moved out of the politcal writing game many, many moons ago.
Then it hit me. It's election day in Canada. Must have the Calgary-based Prime Minister in the building. By the time I reached the seats to watch practice, the thought was confirmed. The Flames bench, normally empty except for trainers, was packed with photographers and cameramen, and those security guys with the things in their ears. Yep, the Prime Minister must be in the house.
It was further confirmed when a young skater wearing a Flames jersey with the name 'Harper' on the back, skated off the bench. That would be Ben, son of the Prime Minister.
Ben stood alongside head coach Mike Keenan as he put the Flames through the morning skate paces and, during a break, was greeted by Flames captain Jarome Iginla
. Later, under the watchful eye of 20 or so RCMP security squad members, the young Harper skated in for a shot on net against Miikka Kiprusoff
. Not a bad morning for a kid, at all.
The Prime Minister hit the bench about midway through practice, which was halted for a jersey presentation and photo opportunity on the Flames bench. Iginla and the PM chatted briefly. Then it was back to work for the Flames and, before you knew, as quickly as they arrived, the entourage disappeared and the black vehicles left the back parking lot at the 'Dome.
"It's not something that comes along very often," said Iginla of the visit from Harper.
"It's not everyday that you get to chat with him or hang out with him," echoed defenceman Robyn Regehr. "It was an interesting way to start the morning."
|PHOTO GALLERY |
Stephen Harper and son visit Flames practice
"I have no comment on the country's politics," chuckled head coach Mike Keenan as he met with the media after practice.
The coach wasn't worried that the visit might be a distraction, particularly on the day of a game.
"It's a privileged opportunity," noted head coach Mike Keenan. "They are a lot of people doing a lot of work and we are trying to work at winning hockey games."
"I don't see it as a distraction. We're professionals and there is plenty of time for us to prepare for the game."
"Well, it's like the playoffs for him," smiled Regehr.
With that, the defenceman left to go vote. We didn't ask for who.Mike Board is content manager at www.calgaryflames.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org