CALGARY -- Leaders and veterans are usually the ones who rule an NHL dressing room.
It was puppies running the show for the Calgary Flames after practice Friday.
Sixteen puppies between the ages of six to nine weeks were brought to Scotiabank Saddledome as part of an effort to raise awareness for pet adoption and also to help provide the NHL team with a "stress relief" day prior to their home game against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, SN360, SN1, CITY, NHL.TV).
"We're very fortunate to come out here and have these puppies give a little bit of a stress relief day for the Flames players," said Janine Rossler from the Cochrane and Area Humane Society. Cochrane is a town just west of Calgary. "Just even when they reach out a hand to them or snuggle them, there's the visceral reaction and that smile that happens. And it's a very calming feeling. It's a euphoric feeling and it just strengthens that human-animal bond.
"The players are under a lot of stress and we definitely recognize that. If we can be part of a little bit of stress relief for them, we're so happy and fortunate to be part of that."
The 11 Retriever mixes and five Husky mixes found plenty of interaction and mischief in the Flames room.
"These guys are too cute," said Flames forward Tobias Rieder. "I'm guessing they're not going to last too long (before being adopted) at the Humane Society. Hopefully they'll all find a good family."
The Flames and the Cochrane and Area Humane Society have struck a fruitful partnership this season.
Earlier this season, and thanks to a connection made by supporter and local realtor Kendra Watt, the Humane Society brought puppies to the Flames office for a stress relief day for front office staff. The Humane Society also provided dogs for the Calgary Flames 2020 Pet Calendar.