Earlier in June, we asked for Flames fans from around the world to tell us about their experiences cheering for the team from outside of Calgary. We did not expect to receive so many amazing replies from great fans all around the world.
So far, we’ve heard from fans spanning 102 cities and towns, 23 countries, and six continents. We’ve covered eight provinces and territories in Canada, and 19 states in the United States. The Flames community truly does cover the entire planet, and we’re lucky and proud to be part of that community. If you missed our post on the overall results and a coverage map, check it out here!
Full Global Flames Fan Series: Australia, England, Scotland, Finland, Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Netherlands, Switzerland, Morocco, Tunisia, Tajikistan, Brazil, China, the United States, and Canada outside of Calgary.
Next up in our Global Flames Fan Series is a collection of experiences from our friends in the United States! We’ve compiled selected responses to questions from our questionnaire below from nine different Flames fans, living all over the USA. Enjoy!
How did you become a Flames fan?
I saw my first NHL game at the Omni in Atlanta on March 20, 1980. The Flames beat the Blues and I became a Flames fan. A couple months later they were sold and moving to Calgary. I had to look at a map to find Calgary (I was 12). I stayed loyal all these years.Nashville, Tennesee
Being from Oklahoma, I had no exposure to hockey. When I went to college in 1985, my roommate and I would watch reruns of that week’s Formula One race on ESPN Tuesdays. In order to ‘claim’ the TV Lounge we would be in there all night, and NHL was on before the race. So we started watching it, and got interested. As playoffs approached I decided I needed to pick a favorite team. There were none close to me, but I settled on Calgary because they had originally been from Atlanta. Seemed as good a reason as any. That season of course, the Flames went deep in the playoffs, and I was ‘locked in’.Oklahoma
My dad. He’s from North Bay, Ontario and moved to Calgary in college and became a big Flames fan. After he graduated he moved to Rochester, Minnesota and made me a Flames fan ever since I started to watched hockey.Rochester, Minnesota
Tell us about your experience following the Flames from outside of Calgary.
It is a positive one. Sometimes I interact with other Flames fans that I meet from either this area or Southern Ontario. It made me hungry enough to visit Calgary five times, and I have met a lot of extraordinary people in the city, and in the organization itself.Lackwanna, New York
It’s hard to hear anything about them when nobody even plays hockey in a desert state! I barely learned New Mexico has a hockey team six months ago. I like to look at Flames info on Reddit, but I won’t see much anything on TV or on social media.New Mexico
Have had to sign up for NHL.TV considering most of their games are out of my market, but otherwise it’s fun sometimes to interact with hockey fans I run into here. Even if a bulk are Blackhawks fans or Predators fans (their AHL team is in Milwaukee and I go to their games frequently).Wisconsin
Do you watch games? If so, where do you typically watch and with whom?
I watch all of them, usually at home with my family, who are also fans.Troy, Alabama
I watch whenever I can, usually at home on NHL Network with my son, Theoren. Yes, I did that. No regrets!Oklahoma
All of them, even if I’m working I’ll be either be tracking the score or “go to the bathroom” and watch the game for five minutes.Rochester, Minnesota
What is the most popular sport where you live, and which teams? What challenges do you face following the Flames?
Football is by far the most popular sport in Alabama – college and professional. I play hockey in Alabama, and there is actually a large amount of players here. I have to drive two hours to the nearest arena though, in Pelham, AL.Troy, Alabama
Moved to Detroit recently and hockey is finally big again (as opposed to Indiana and Kentucky before). I would love to be able to watch hockey (especially my Flames) with others on a more regular basis. Would be amazing if I could find other local Flames fans.Detroit, Michigan
New Mexico has no professional sports teams like the NFL, so there’s not much at all around here. The closest ice rink to me is like ~300 miles away. Finding hockey fans at all is impossible!New Mexico
What is the best experience you’ve had as a Flames fan from where you live?
Halloween Night in Nashville last year. Had seats in one of the luxury suites. Tkachuk with the OT winner. Best finish I’ve ever seen for the Flames.Nashville, Tennesee
The 7-1 win against the Sabres in December of 1987. Sneaking to the dressing room area at the Aud to meet as many Flames players as I could In 1993. Meeting with the Flames players and staff at all three drafts held here in WNY.Lackwanna, New York
I went over to Texas wearing my Flames toque to go see a hockey game there, and a man at a merch table looked at me and made a silent nod of approval. That brief moment of silent bond is literally the only time anyone has ever acknowledged it!New Mexico
I covered a game in Dallas from the press box, which was an amazing experience. Unfortunately I did not trust myself enough to go in the locker room and do interviews, I think I would have embarrassed myself. So I interviewed Mike Modano instead.Oklahoma
Ran into a couple people in random places with Flames gear on and striking up conversations. Or traveling to see the team live and really getting to interact with the fanbase is special.Wisconsin
What is the worst experience you’ve had as a Flames fan from where you live?
I lived in Indiana when Iginla was traded. It felt like somebody died but there was no one I could talk to about it. I was very upset for a long time.Detroit, Michigan
No Canadian coverage in the US. Hate when games are not on a widely available cable channel.Chicago, Illinois
Jarome Iginla being traded from Calgary. I went to bed sad, woke up sad, and when I went to school all of my friends teased me about him getting traded. It was a tough day.Rochester, Minnesota
Who is your favourite player and why?
David Rittich – I’m a goalie too, and I love his swagger and humor. And his great saves!Troy, Alabama
Tied between Al MacInnis, the greatest defenceman ever IMO, and Theo Fleury, who was real nice and accommodating to me when I met him on his book tour twice in 2014.Lackwanna, New York
Theoren Fleury. I just loved his energy that rookie year, loved watching a little guy outplay the behemoths, his scrappiness and fire were unbelievable. I mean, obviously, we named our son after him.Oklahoma
Any last thoughts you’d like to share?
Was set to see my first Flames game in Calgary on March 21, 40 years from my first ever Flames game. Unfortunately the season was suspended the week before I was supposed to leave. Hopefully we’ll have fans back soon and I can reschedule my trip.Nashville, Tennesee
I’ve toured the Saddledome six times in my Calgary vacations, and I was treated like one of the family while visiting there. I’ve made several friends with some of the staff and fans. Two of them are some of my dearest friends. One gave me a Miikka Kiprusoff goal stick, the other a piece of the Saddledome boards as a memento. All of this has made me feel at home in Calgary and is part of my motivation to move to Calgary to live there for the rest of my life.Lackwanna, New York
For someone born and raised far from ‘hockey country’, it is amazing how intertwined it’s been in my life. When my wife and I met, the fact that we were both hockey fans in Oklahoma became one of those ‘it must be meant to be’ things. Hockey is the last major professional sport where most players are humble and seem to realize just how blessed they are to be able to play this sport. And the community is so close – you see it in reactions to things like the Humboldt Broncos tragedy, or the recent ‘saving’ of the University of Alabama-Huntsville program, or in smaller tragedies like when a family in my son’s travel league had an accident and lost a couple of players. Hockey is a family all its own, and my family is blessed for being a part of it.Oklahoma
Thanks to all our American Flames fans for providing such great answers to our questionnaire. It’s great to see Flames fans scattered throughout the United States, even in cities with huge NHL fanbases of their own. These stories were amazing and definitely hit close to home.
We unfortunately couldn’t feature all the answers we got, but if we missed something you’d like to share, please share them again in the comments or on social media.
Stay tuned for the next Global Flames Fan Series article featuring our friends from Canada, outside of Calgary!