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Edmonton welcomes Sea of Red

by Laurence Heinen / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Normally a fixture at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the “Sea of Red” invaded Edmonton’s Rexall Place during the preliminary round of the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

While watching Canada skate to a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic on Dec. 28, Jim Peplinski felt right at home at Rexall Place with the majority of the fans wearing red to support the host squad.
Peplinski couldn’t help but give a little good-natured ribbing to fellow host committee co-chairman Lyle Best of Edmonton.

“I looked out and I said to Lyle, ‘You guys have finally got it. You’re finally getting it, it’s the Sea of Red’,” said Peplinski, referring to the fact that fans in Calgary wear red to support the Flames during home games at the Saddledome.

“Yeah, that’s great,” sighed Best.

With the remainder of the medal round and relegation games slated to be played in Calgary, the Saddledome will once again live up to its nickname.

“Now you guys are finally drinking the Kool-Aid and when the Sea of Red comes down the highway, we’ll really have something going,” Peplinski told Best.

Despite giving Best a bit of a hard time, Peplinski said he has enjoyed working with his co-chair to put on a successful event.

“He’s a wonderfully generous of spirit kind of guy,” Peplinski said. “He’s always got ideas on how to make things better and he’s just been a pleasure to work with.”

With representation from both Calgary and Edmonton on the host committee, there was bound to be some conflicts during the planning process, but Peplinski said that wasn’t the case.

“I can’t think of a negative thing to say about Edmonton,” said Peplinski, who played 711 regular season games and 99 more playoff contests for the Flames between 1980 and 1995.
On second thought, Peplinski recalled one disagreement between the Calgary and Edmonton representatives on the committee.

“Volunteer uniforms - we wanted something that stuck out,” Peplinski recalled. When someone from Calgary suggested red, the Edmonton contingent quickly nixed that idea.

“If we do them red in Calgary you’re not going to see them because everything is red,” Peplinski said.

When someone from Edmonton suggested blue, the Calgarians definitely didn’t like that idea.

“So we ended up with beige and black,” said Peplinski, referring to the easily-recognizable volunteer uniforms consisting of a black long-sleeved shirt and a pale yellow vest.

Author: Laurence Heinen

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