CALGARY, AB -- It started as a single game, a sales department victory over Finance in 1998.
Fifteen years later, the Finance Cup (rebranded as the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Group Hockey Championship) has evolved into much, much more.
"It's really just a wrap up of the season once the season's done for all teams, which in those days was largely the Flames and possibly the Hitmen," said Rollie Cyr, vice president of sales. "Then we would have a game that was instituted when Michael Holdich was the CFO because, prior to his hips falling apart, was the guy that represented the Finance side."
Beginning as an excuse to get together for beer and nachos afterwards, it didn't take long for the spectacle to grow.
"Where it started off, was primarily for those who played hockey," Cyr said. "About six or seven years ago, it took on a greater life within the organization where more people got involved, either more people playing -- we've seen it grow from two teams to three teams to four teams."
What started as a game and subsequent bar retweet between competing desks evolved into a larger exhibition thanks in large part to Art Hernandez, credited Cyr.
"Hernandez, between periods, he arranged to have lobster and sushi brought to the bench and champagne and orange juice," Cyr said. "That started ramping up the various things that would go on. We had a car come on the ice with some cheerleaders."
In other words, the Finance Cup was no longer just about the hockey, but instead encompasses all staff as a reward for a long season of hard work.
"It's been a gradual metamorphosis from a hockey game to a staff event," Cyr described. "When you see the things that will lead up to it, the trades, announcements, press releases, it gets everyone wired up."
The growth into a staff celebration is what has made the event what it is today, Cyr celebrated.
"Gradually you've seen the event take on much greater life than it started out with," he said. "Four years ago, we had food supplied for everybody, not just the players. We started having cheering sections. We started having a lot of people from the departments associated with their teams come out in cheer.
"When you see all the signage and people cheering, it was quite cool."