Five years ago today I posted my first Red Mile Blog post the day before the 2005-2006 season opened. It took me a while to realize that today was the anniversary of the day it all began, but after a quick check of the RMB archives I realized that it all started on October 4, 2005.
I’m not known for my amazing memory, but I still remember that day vividly. Flames fans everywhere were ripe with enthusiasm and huge expectations after the Flames run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. Remember the 2004-2005 season? That’s right! It never happened, thanks to the lockout.
This was the first time our beloved Flames would take the ice again after we lit up the Red Mile, and reminded Calgarians that hockey is OUR game. Indeed, that run to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals brought out the hockey fan in a lot of Canadians that had become mired in the politics and big business of expansion-era hockey in the USA. Many of my friends, who cheer for other NHL teams including the Habs, Leafs and *gasp* Canucks, actually cheered on the Flames that year. Many of them truly believe(d) in the truth of those Stanley Cup finals signs. You know, the ones that hope to get on TV by saying:
October 4, 2005 was the start of the “New NHL” that we all bitched and complained about so much. But it was also the start of a new era of creative playmaking in the NHL. It was the day before Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin made their NHL debuts and it was a day before the first NHL game was decided in the shootout. It was also the day before Miikka Kiprusoff started his campaign to win his first Vezina Trophy while setting a Flames record with 10 shutouts.
Since my first RMB post, the game has changed and many would say it’s for the better. The jury’s still out on whether the NHL is better as a league, but the game is definitely different than it was pre-lockout. It’s played at a faster pace and there’s less room for error, both on and off the ice. There’s less clutch and grab and just as many big hits and great fights. As much as I hated the lockout, I think it’s evened out the odds for all teams and increased the odds that we’ll see another team (or two) in Canada. Maybe in Winnipeg or Quebec City?!!
In the past 5 years I’ve done my best to keep up with the happenings of the Flames and to share them with you through Red Mile Blog. I’ve changed platforms, from Blogger to WordPress, and as always, it’s a work in progress. We’ve seen the emergence of social media and its dramatic effect on how we cover the game. But throughout all the change, it’s the people that have made this fun for me. There are a handful of you that have been there with me since the beginning, and along the way I’ve discovered that there are Flames fans all over the world, not just in Calgary. My Google Analytics looks like a mini United Nations and I’m happy to know that fans in Brazil, Germany, Korea and New Zealand have been able to keep up with the Flames by reading the Red Mile Blog.
So I raise my glass to you, Flames fans, Flames players and Flames staff. Here’s to a great five years and to hoping that the next five are just as good!
Now if only we could find a way to get past the first round of the playoffs.