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At the Rink: In NHL's North Division, Calgary Flames Keep Battle of Alberta Alive in Empty Scotiabank Saddledome

07/04/2021

At the Rink: In NHL's North Division, Calgary Flames Keep Battle of Alberta Alive in Empty Scotiabank Saddledome The Flames and Oilers will face off a total of 10 times this season By Kristian Hernandez, Associate Editor

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 1:49 pm

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The National Hockey League was the last of the four major American sports to host a non-bubble regular season. As fans gradually make their return to the seats, how is that affecting in-venue productions and digital content? Similar to At the Ballpark, On the Gridiron, and On the Hardwood, At the Rink will look at the operations of NHL organizations to see how their coping with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and adapting back to a sense of normalcy.

A good sports rivalry catches the attention of both fanbases for a few days before dissipating, but a truly great rivalry is filled with passion that passes down from generation to generation. The long-standing NHL feud between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, dubbed The Battle of Alberta , is in the midst of one of its most intriguing periods. At Scotiabank Saddledome, the Flames' production staff is doing what they can to keep the embers burning while fans are away.

We get to play them 10 times this season, which is awesome for hockey fans in both Edmonton and Calgary, says Steve Edgar, manager, game presentation, Calgary Flames. From our perspective, we try to promote our team and hopefully give the guys all they need to go out there and succeed.

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Fueling the Fire: Four-Decade-Old Rivalry Adds Unique Chapter to the History Books Scotiabank Saddledome is being filled with fake crowd noise.

One of the league's fiercest rivalries, the Battle of Alberta dates back to the inception of both franchises. After the Edmonton Oilers, formerly of the World Hockey Association, became the NHL's newest team in 1979, they were the lone representative in the Canadian province. One year later, the former Atlanta Flames moved to Alberta and set up the battle of supremacy that pits Calgary, their most populous city, and the capital of Edmonton. Over its 40-year history, there have been moments of bad blood, but the tension ratcheted up a bit last year with a chunk of on-ice fights, including between goaltenders Cam Talbot and Mike Smith.

There's been a lot of physicality between members of each team, says Edgar. Heading into this season, everyone was licking their chops to get to these games.

To match the intensity, the Flames' in-venue crew is at their best when the Oilers come to town. Videoboard features include specialized content before and during the game. Edgar and his staff, including Senior Director, Game Presentation and Events Geordie Macleod, are toeing the line between firing up their own players while steering clear of providing bulletin board material for the opposition.

We don't poke a lot of fun at the opposition since they do have some firepower, adds Edgar. We try to respect them because we don't necessarily want to get on their bad side.

The Rest of the Schedule: A Mixture of New and Old Prompts Entertain Players on the Ice Despite the bitterness that the Flames have with the Oilers, they're also responsible for producing shows against five other Canadian-based teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Vancouver Canucks) in the new North Division. For these games at Stampede Park, content is being focused around two important factors: the players wearing the Flames sweater and their history against the opposing team.

Our content is catered directly towards the hockey team, so it's a lot of high-energy music and engaging visuals that help create an atmosphere, says Edgar. Most of these elements rotate game after game, so we develop new material and regurgitate some of the older things. When it comes to opponents, we do a bit to cover the matchup. Whether that's updating a video or showing past highlights, we want to showcase these storylines as much as we can.

In addition to a constant rotation of production elements, the organization has moved forward with their themed nights this year. While not an official holiday, the province celebrates Family Day on the third Monday of every February. The Flames would usually host throngs of families in the stands, but in 2021, the team recognized the day before their matchup with the Canucks on Feb. 15:

Sponsor Integration: Team Partners Get Involved in Digital Activations The Flames are maintaining their game day traditions like their post-goal fireball.

While fans are still watching from home, Edgar and company are bringing the live experience to their living rooms. Working closely with Flames TV, the franchise's video production department, the game presentation side is giving their onsite talent a nice backdrop for gameday programming. The most notable projects being done are Flames TV Live Pre-Game Show presented by Budweiser, the Alberta Ram Dealers Intermission Live after the first and second periods, and the Alberta Ra
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/04/07/at-the-rink-in-nhls-north-divis...
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