Calgary Flames News & Rumors: COVID, Arena Deal, Coronato

In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, nearly the entire roster has been taken off the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, with just one remaining. In other news, an arena deal between the team and city is no longer a go, as Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek announced that the team is pulling out of the project. Last but not least, Flames prospect Matt Coronato made his World Juniors debut on Sunday night for Team USA.

COVID Update

While the entire league has been affected by COVID-19 in some shape or form, but few were hit as hard as the Flames. For some time, they had as many as 20 players on the list, which, according to head coach Darryl Sutter, could have his team a little rusty off the hop.

“A lot of these guys haven’t skated for a couple weeks plus Covid, guys who tested positive, which most of them did, everybody’s going to react a little bit differently,” Sutter said. “It’s not like you’ve got to theme a practice, you’re just trying to get everybody through the first one.”

Dan Vladar Calgary Flames
Dan Vladar, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The remaining Flame on the protocol list is goaltender Dan Vladar, who first tested positive back on Dec. 21. However, Sutter said on Sunday that he believes Vladar would be activated on Monday. It appears that this ugly stretch is, or soon will be, entirely behind them.

City Out on Arena Deal

Some unfortunate news for Flames fans came last week, as Gondek confirmed that Murray Edwards, the primary shareholder of Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp (CSEC), told her that the team has pulled out of the arena deal the two sides had initially agreed upon back in 2019.

“Today, I am bringing you the unfortunate news that we have come to the conclusion where the event center deal is not moving forward,” Gondek said in a press conference last Tuesday. “There was additional funding that had to be taken on by Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation. It appears that they are unable to make that financial commitment, following the approval of their development permit, so it would appear that they are ending the deal.”

The two parties had initially agreed to split the costs of an 18,000 seat arena, which was estimated to cost between $550-600 million. The construction of the building was set to get underway in early 2022, but with this latest development, that will no longer be the case. Shortly after Gondek’s press conference, the CSEC responded with their own statement.

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“CSEC’s primary objective in pursuing the Event Center Project has been to provide Calgarians a first-class facility with an entertainment experience, not only for hockey but for other events including concerts, comparable to other major cities. However, at this point, it is clear that the City and CSEC have been unable to resolve a number of issues relating to the escalating costs of the Project.

“Accordingly, as the City and CSEC have been unable to resolve these issues, CSEC has determined that there is no viable path to complete the Event Centre Project.”

This is an extremely unfortunate turn of events and will likely result in some rumors of relocation until a new deal between these two parties is reached. The hope now is that a new deal can be agreed upon soon, as the city of Calgary has proven for a long time that they are a great hockey market.

Coronato Starts Strong at World Juniors

It is a quiet year for Flames prospects at the World Juniors, as they have just one playing in the tournament. That one, however, happens to be one of their best in Coronato, who they selected 13th overall at the 2021 draft.

Matt Coronato Chicago Steel
Matt Coronato, Chicago Steel (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

It was expected that Coronato, 19, would play a big role for Team USA at this year’s event, and in their opening game versus Slovakia, that was certainly the case. Not only was he able to assist on a Mackie Samoskevich goal in the opening frame, but his 17:47 minutes led all USA forwards and ranked fourth on the entire team. He should continue to play a massive role for a team with a very good shot at a gold medal this year.

Up Next for the Flames

Due to the COVID outbreak throughout the entire league, the Flames have not played a game since Dec. 11. Thankfully, that will soon change as they are expected to play against the Seattle Kraken this Thursday, followed by a Friday night tilt with the Winnipeg Jets. They will then cap their week off with a Sunday game versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Before being shut down, they were in a bit of a skid as they had lost four straight, something they will look to get over once they get back on the ice.

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