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Back-to-back visits from superstars among highlights of next season's schedule

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

A coast-to-coast Hockey Night in Canada home-opening test Oct. 6 against the Vancouver Canucks, the mouth-watering prospect of a November Sid-Ovie twin-bill and New Year's Eve partying with San Jose Sharks.

Anybody ready for some hockey?

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Loooooooooob excited to return to the Flames fold as Head of European Scouting

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Over 29 years have passed since borrowing a screwdriver from trainer Bearcat Murray and removing the nameplate above his dressing stall as a keepsake on the way back home to Sweden.

"Would it feel the same if I was joining Buffalo or Pittsburgh?'' muses the current, older version of Hakan Loob.

"I can't say for sure, of course. But I can't believe it would.

"It's Calgary. I have a heart for the city. A big heart.

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Sonia Scurfield remembered as wonderful person with a contagious optimism

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Among an unending album of personal Lanny McDonald favourites that touchstone night, one photo in particular stands out right now from the wee hours of May 26, 1989.

"On the plane ride home from Montreal, Sonia sitting on the plane with the other owners around her and the Stanley Cup right there beside her," the Flames' icon is reminiscing.

"It's her, front and centre, and the other five guys around her and the Cup.

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Draft is about more than simply selecting early, says Treliving

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The wait, Brad Treliving fully acknowledges, could seem interminable.

Into Day Two on the floor of American Airlines Arena in Big D, as things stand, before ambling up to the dais, clearing his throat and welcoming a new addition to the family.

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Former NHLer has played important role in growing game in Hong Kong

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Back in the day, he answered to Bubba and, at 6-foot-3 and 215-lb., could pound the puck or flatten forwards with the force of an oncoming freight train.

"Ah," jokes Barry Beck, the second over-all pick in the 1977 NHL Draft, "the good old days."

It's 9 a.m. in Hong Kong (7 p.m. the previous early evening, in Calgary) and in Unit 1013, offices of the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Academy on Trademart Drive overlooking Kowloon Bay, the work day is beginning.

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Sean Monahan's recovery from the four surgeries he underwent is going smoothly

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The sling has vanished.

The spirits are up.

The timetable is bang-on schedule.

"Everything," reports Sean Monahan, "is going just as planned. 

"The hip area, I'd say, is 100 percent cleared and now it's a matter of being back on the ice and getting used to shooting and stuff again.

"I've been working out and haven't been limited in doing anything."

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Cail MacLean is ready to take on head coaching duties in Stockton

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The personality doesn't require artificial altering simply because the business card has changed.

"You do have to be mindful of the difference in your role," acknowledges Cail MacLean, "but it doesn't make me a different person.

"I can only be me, no matter what my job title is.

"I've done this before, graduating from player to assistant coach to head coach in South Carolina, so I ended up coaching friends I'd been with for years, and it all happened in a short period of time.

"I'm fortunate to have had a run-through there.

"I'm a person, not a title. I've got to make sure I carry out my role in a responsible way and treat our players as people."

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Ryan Huska has been key to the success of many Flames prospects

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The students are, frankly, tickled for the teacher.

"He's helped so many of us get the chance to go up and play in the NHL,'' says left winger Andrew Mangiapane. "It's great that it's him getting the call-up now."

Thursday's announcement that Ryan Huska had been elevated from head coach of the AHL Stockton Heat to assistant here with the Flames is well deserved, and being widely applauded.

The roll-call of players from California to take NHL bows and earn spots during his tenure piloting the organization's top minor-league affiliate is lengthy: Mangiapane, Mark Jankowski, Brett Kulak, Micheal Ferland, Spencer Foo, Rasmus Andersson, Garnet Hathaway, Jon Gillies, David Rittich, Morgan Klimchuk, et al.

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Flames GM on bringing Ward and Huska to Calgary

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The seeds began to take preliminary root as far back as two years ago, in faraway Moscow/St. Petersburg, Russia.

"I actually visited with, interviewed, Geoff when we were both involved at the World Championships a couple years ago,'' Flames' general manager Brad Treliving recalled Thursday, after adding Geoff Ward from the New Jersey Devils organization as an associate coach to incoming bench boss Bill Peters.

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New associate coach Ward a powerplay specialist who excels at maximizing player potential

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

There wasn't, Geoff Ward tells you, one incisive image of that never-to-be-forgotten night at Rogers Arena seared into his consciousness.

No specific cameo-keepsake moment to adorn the front page of the photo album.

Not the second the time drained down to 00:00. Not even making the handoff to hoist over his head that big, jug-eared silver chalice they all sweat and bleed and ache for, as sweet as that was.

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