The Flames season ended with a win and the 350th consecutive sellout in the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The win meant little other than move the team to a 9th place finish in the West from 11th but 5 points from the post-season party.
The sellout streak tells you all you need to know about Flame fans loyality. A loyality the club must pay more attention to as it starts another all-too-early summer.
The sellout streak started on Feb. 13, 2004. Earlier in that same 2003-04 season, the Flames played games in the ‘Dome with announced crowds of just over 13,000. That’s 6,000 less than the nightly attendance from the 2011-12 campaign.
The ’03-04 season was when the Flames concluded a 7-year playoff drought and brought back the sellouts.
Now it’s three years without a post-season and for the first time in a while the Flames will go to the off-season freeing up money taking them $15-million-or-so from under last season’s Salary Cap maximum.
Jay Feaster has been full-time GM for 10 months and his regrime now can start putting more of its stamp on the club. It presents challenges and unknowns.
The unknown makes the challenge more daunting.
Setting the Flame foundation for the beginning of the future is between now and the end of July. A time when Salary Cap numbers for the next season aren’t likely to be known. Since the ’05-06 season those numbers were based on revenues from the past campaign. Assessments are that the max, based on that premise, will be in the $70-million range from the present $64.3M.
Problem is that before the next season can start a new Collective Bargaining Agreement must be hammered out between the NHL and its players. Thus, the Cap numbers are most likely to be decreased. Nobody can predict where that will be and when teams will know. Negotations between the two sides aren’t schedule to get going until after the playoffs. Traditionally, the bartering takes a while measured more in months than days.
This all affects possible trades before and after the NHL Draft plus signing players when the Free Agency period starts on Canada Day.
The off-season Flame changes could be the greatest in years. The team’s fan base will be watching closely.