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Our season-ticket holders have some amazing stories to tell. For Michael Chan, the Scotiabank Saddledome was a 'place that he knew he was going to see a friend'

by MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ @NHLFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Section 226.

A special place to watch his beloved Calgary Flames, sure.

But for Michael Chan, Section 226 in the Scotiabank Saddledome was much more than that.

"He met some of his best friends there," said Rosa Chan, Michael's sister. "He'd always say the Saddledome was his second home - that's how he described it."

After an 11-year battle with cancer, Michael passed away last November, leaving an empty seat in Section 226 and an empty space in the hearts of those who sat around him.

"It was a big social thing for him," said Rosa. "You could see the camaraderie in that section. Everybody was high fiving each other and hugging - they're really genuinely nice people.

"Buck Shot (Ron Barge) and his daughter (Cindy Barge) came to Michael's funeral, and she had Michael's service folder with her at Jarome Iginla's jersey retirement. Cindy texted me a picture of her and her dad and said: 'Michael's here with us because I know he would've wanted to see this.' I had a tear in my eye.

"These are just people he met through 226. We had no history with these people. They just all bonded there.

"The relationship that Michael had with these people - everyone in our family kind of inherited those friends."

Michael and his long-time friend Tim Dang bought their season tickets after graduating from the University of Calgary.

"It was always the goal," said Dang. "Once we graduated in 2002, we went and got our first season tickets for the 2003 season."

"Besides Buck Shot, I think we're the longest standing season-ticket holders in 226. I don't go to as many games as Mike did, but he bonded with everybody in that section."

"It does seem like a family there; we go up and down with the Flames."

And an up note for the 226 family was obviously the 2004 playoff run.

"It was the Flames' first playoff game in seven years," recalled Dang. "Mike and I were really excited. We were there for about an hour and a half before the game, and everything was red. The fans were going crazy.

"It's something I will never forget."

Another remarkable moment came after Michael's passing. On Nov. 30, less than a month after his death, Michael was honoured as the Season Ticket Holder of the Game, with all of his family and friends in attendance. And one of his friends got a surprise that Rosa believes Michael was responsible for.

"I gave one of his tickets to one of his friends for that game," said Rosa. "He actually won the 50-50 draw that night. Sitting in Michael's seats.

"He texted me and said: 'You're not going to believe this. I won the 50-50.' I thought he was just joking around. He was just over the moon.

"Since then I always buy 50-50 tickets when I'm in Michael's seats, and nothing happens. I'm like, 'come on Michael, look out for me, too!'"

Michael's obituary described him as a "superfan of the Calgary Flames" who was "proud to wear the Flaming C jersey everywhere."

"In Chinese culture, you put the things that the person loved in their casket. So, we had to get all of his jerseys. I felt like I was folding laundry for the entire Calgary Flames team - there were so many jerseys!

"When Michael was in the casket, we put the jerseys on him. He wore his red Calgary Flames jersey with Iginla's signature on it. My mom saw 'stuff' on Michael's jersey, and she was trying to wipe it off. My other brother came up to me and asked what she was doing, and I told him mom said it was dirty.

"He was like, 'tell her to stop that's Iginla's signature on that jersey!'"

It truly is a family affair for the Chans, and one that will live on in Michael's memory - and Section 226 - for the foreseeable future.

"When I was at the playoff game this year with my son, the Flames scored and people were just all high-fiving him, and he was so thrilled. I glanced over at him, and I could see Michael in him a little bit. It made me realize that it was the right decision to keep Michael's seats."

"I know it's a game; it's just a game. But for Michael, it was a place that he knew he was going to see a friend.

"And I think that's what made Michael keep going back."

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