It's just unbelievable to put this great rink back on its feet in so few weeks. It's just unbelievable. It allows us to be back in the saddle tonight and have fun." - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- The 'Dome wasn't rebuilt in a day, but now it's time to get back in the saddle.
Following a massive undertaking to get Scotiabank Saddledome back in game shape following the floods that devastated Southern Alberta in late June, the Calgary Flames have returned home and will christen the recently renovated rink when playing host to the Edmonton Oilers in preseason, split-squad action on Saturday.
Simply put by coach Bob Hartley, it's good to be home.
"It's just unbelievable to put this great rink back on its feet in so few weeks," Hartley said in advance of the game Saturday. "It's just unbelievable. It allows us to be back in the saddle tonight and have fun."
Almost miraculously, crews from CANA Construction worked around the clock to ensure the arena was ready for action. Their work, dedication and pride in preparing the building is something Hartley's used repeatedly as a metaphor for the rebuilding project underway on the ice.
"If we just match the workers intensity and especially their will..." Hartley said. "It's funny, the president of CANA when he entered my office, he even has the picture on his phone. I have a saying on my board, 'Without courage there's no hope'. He said that when the water went down, that line was still on my white board and he took a picture and he showed the employees and said 'That's where we're starting from'.
"It's just unbelievable. If we can just match their intensity and their will, our fans will be very pleased with us and we will have a great season."
Defenceman Mark Giordano, who saw the finished product a week ago a week ago while picking up some gear, thinks his Flames can draw from the building rebuild.
"We can definitely use that. Bob's mentioned it a bunch of times to us already," he said. "We have to take that workmanlike attitude and that belief and carry it over to our game. We're all NHL players, we're all confident in ourselves and as a team, if we play the right way and we do the right things and get some performances this year we feel like we can make some noise."
As for the renovation itself, he's is impressed.
"I came in to grab some equipment about a week and a half ago and just got my first taste of it and it was like 'Wow, I can't believe it's ready'," said Giordano, who left Calgary a day before the floods hit. "It seems a little brighter in here, a little more spacious. It looks good.
"The picture where the water was almost right up to the suites there. I saw that one and wow, that was the worst one I've seen. To know that it's come from that to what it is today, it's pretty impressive.
"It looks great. Basically, everything's brand new. They obviously finished everything up. It looks great. It looks brand new. Everything's brand new. It looks great to us players."
Giordano's not the only player to come away impressed.
Greg Chase, who is used to being on the Calgary end of the 'Battle of Alberta' as a member of the Western Hockey League's Hitmen, is getting his first glimpse at his new, old digs with the Oilers.
"I got to see the (Hitmen) dressing room early this morning and what they did there was unbelievable," said Chase, selected in the seventh round by the Oilers in the 2013 NHL Draft. "It's disappointing what happened. It wasn't really a fun time for Calgary but the way everyone came together and made this situation happen and made hockey happen back here at the 'Dome is impressive and we're grateful for it."
Hockey's back at the 'Dome thanks in large part to the contractors who worked tirelessly to make it happen.
They'll be rewarded Saturday as part of 'Contractor Appreciation Night' at Scotiabank Saddledome. It's only fitting, after all, they get the chance to relax at the rink they helped rebuild.
And put the Flames back in the saddle in advance of the start of the season.