Flames make a case for being the home team in Regina outdoor game against Jets

REGINA — The NHL’s outdoor game in Regina may be a home game for the Winnipeg Jets, but the Calgary Flames are staking a claim to it.

The NHL lauded all things Saskatchewan at Friday’s news conference launching its marketing campaign for the 2019 Heritage Classic on Oct. 26 at Mosaic Stadium.

A non-NHL or “neutral” city will be the host of the Heritage Classic for the first time.

The Jets will be the home team in the regular-season game, but the Flames emphasized the franchise’s Saskatchewan connections including ownership group chair Murray Edwards, who hails from Regina.

Late owners Daryl “Doc” Seaman was from Rouleau, just south of Regina, and John “Bud” McCaig was born in Moose Jaw.

President, chief operating officer and Saskatoon product John Bean pointed to the number of the province’s expats who live in Calgary and show up to CFL games there en masse wearing green and white.

“Notwithstanding we are the visiting team for this game, we are without hesitation considering the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, a home game for the Calgary Flames,” Bean declared to assembled media in Regina.

“In this age of political correctness, we loyal Saskatchewan transplants like to say when it comes to sports in Calgary, we are red on the outside and green on the inside.

“For one night only, we hope to have a sea of red in Regina. We all know we’re still green on the inside.”

The NHL also marked Saskatchewan as its territory extolling the 514 men from the province who have played in the league.

Seventeen are Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, including Gordie Howe, Sid Abel, Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier.

“Here in Saskatchewan, a province with a relatively small population, there are a remarkable number of great NHLers that have gone before us,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

“True hockey greatness has been passed down from generation to generation here.”

Regina-born players currently in the NHL include Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Jordan Eberle of the New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz, Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk and Wild defenceman Mathew Dumba.

Daly projected the league’s 28th outdoor game and the fifth Heritage Classic will be seen by 1.5 million people.

Mosaic Stadium, owned by the city and operated by the Regina Exhibition Association, replaced 69-year-old Taylor Field as the home of the CFL’s Roughriders in 2017.

Regina is the host city of the 2020 Grey Cup after Calgary stages this year’s CFL’s championship game in November.

Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field was the site of the 2016 Heritage Classic, which the visiting Edmonton Oilers won 3-0 in front of 33,000.

“It was really in my view a tipping point for our organization,” True North Sports and Entertainment chair Mark Chipman said.

“It allowed us to re-connect to the history of the Winnipeg Jets for the first time and re-establish our alumni which is really strong and thriving now.

“It was a meaningful crossroads for us to be able to present the game in Winnipeg on the world stage and show the hockey world how vibrant hockey is in the prairies.”

Calgary held the 2011 Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium, where the Flames shut out the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in front of 41,000.

Current captain Mark Giordano and centre Mikael Backlund played in that game.

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