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Flames set for Raptors, rowing in team building day

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- Dougie Hamilton best be ready.

He's already been nominated to step from the sidelines to the hardwood should the Toronto Raptors need a little help at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

"It's got to be for sure Dougie," Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano nominated. "He's got the height advantage on all of us.

"We'd send him out there."

The Raptors will host the Denver Nuggets in a pre-season game in Calgary as part of the fifth annual Canada Series.

The Flames will be there, capping a day designed around some team bonding. 

First, some rowing.

Then, some Raptors.

"It's one of those days where we're working on team building and getting to know one another," centre Matt Stajan said. "We've got a little rowing that we're going to do as a team and then we're planning on all going to check out the Toronto Raptors tonight. It'll be a good day for the guys to bond, and we come back to work tomorrow."

Not a bad way to spend a Monday. 

"We're going to have a good day here with the guys and cap it off with a bunch of us going to watch that Raptors game," Giordano said. "Hopefully all of us … I don't know if (Brian Elliott) is going to make it tonight, having a new baby.

"It'll be a different experience for a lot of the guys out West for sure.

"We look forward to it tonight and enjoying it with a few of the guys."

The experience might be new for some of his teammates, but Giordano's a veteran of the sport.

The Toronto native has already logged his fair share of Raptors games.

Recently, in fact.

Toronto finished with its first 50-win season in 2015-16, and defeated the Indiana Pacers in seven games in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Raptors also beat the Miami Heat in seven games, before losing to the eventual NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in the Eastern Conference Final.

Giordano was there for Toronto's Game 7 magic. 

"Obviously with us not making playoffs last year, I got home a bit early and was able to catch a couple Game 7's in the playoffs in Toronto this year," he said. "The atmosphere was great. The team is on the upward swing. Big year last year for them, and hopefully they can continue that and have another good year this year. 

"I think the atmosphere in the ACC this year was second-to-none when they were making that run. It was pretty cool to be able to go out and support them."

The opportunity has come again, albeit in pre-season form.

It's a rare chance.

The Raptors are, after all, making their Calgary debut.

"It'll be good for the city to see some basketball," Stajan said. "I was fortunate to go to a few games last year in Toronto. It's an upbeat atmosphere. I think the city will like it. It's nice they're going across Canada for everyone to see because they're Canada's team. 

"It's nice."

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