Flames say Saddledome will be ready for preseason


Some good news out of Calgary on Wednesday, as the Flames announced the Saddledome will be sufficiently recovered from flood damage to host NHL games this season.

“From a public standpoint, and from a hockey standpoint, we want everything to be operational. This week was the time to decide if we could proceed as planned,” Flames’ president and CEO Ken King said Wednesday, as per the Globe and Mail.

“The answer is yes.”

In late June, floods throughout Southern Alberta hit the Saddledome hard. Standing water rose to the eighth row of seats, and there was significant damage to kitchen areas and electronic headquarters for the arena’s digital screen scoreboard.

Here’s more, from the Globe:

No official cost has been put on the damage done to the Saddledome. All King would say on the subject was the facility has insurance coverage and that the paperwork is being done.

As with any renovation work, things can go off the rails – unexpected problems can pop up, delays can occur. King repeated all was on time and proceeding well, although he did acknowledge backup plans had been discussed.

Beyond that, he declined comment.

The Flames’ preseason schedule gets underway with split squad games on Sept. 14 (one in Edmonton, one in Calgary).

From there, the team has games on the 16th and 17th to be played in Saskatchewan (Saskatoon and Regina, respectively) before returning to the Saddledome for its two final exhibition games — against the Rangers on Sept. 23, and the Coyotes on Sept. 25.

Calgary’s home opener for the 2013-14 regular season is scheduled for Oct. 6, against the Canucks.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.