CALGARY - It's true. The Calgary Flames are in talks about hosting an outdoor game on New Year's Day.
"I have heard discussions," said John Haverstock, manager of McMahon Stadium — the host venue for the event. "I guess it's a possibility, but to say it's close to reality is not correct. It's just so far been discussions.
"I think it would be very cool for the city. Logistically, it's possible. We had an artificial-ice surface at McMahon before at the closing ceremonies for the 1988 Olympics. So it can be done."
Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss, too, confirmed that the idea is being batted around.
"I heard there have been discussions," said Hotchkiss. "We would be an obvious choice. But I haven't heard anything (concrete)."
Flames president Ken King is aware of reports, too, that his team is making plans to host the 2010 Winter Classic.
That it would be the second of two outdoor games that day in the National Hockey League. The 2010 Winter Classic will be the third straight year the NHL has held the event, although this would be the first double-header edition.
But King, reached late Thursday night, refused to confirm any of it.
At the same time, he didn't discount its possibility.
"If that were to take place," said King, "we'd be thrilled to be involved."
If the Flames' plans are approved, the McMahon crew will be hopping — first, the 2009 Grey Cup in late November; then the outdoor shinny match just scant weeks later.
Any practical problems with that?
"Only for the mental health of my staff," said Haverstock. "Obviously the Grey Cup is a very big event, but this is do-able."
According to one league source, the Flames would likely draw a Canadian opponent.
The earlier game that day would feature the Boston Bruins, operating out of Fenway Park, against either the Washington Capitals or the Philadelphia Flyers.
In 2003, the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium. That marked the first outdoor match.
Since then, there have been two other fresh-air faceoffs — in 2008, when the the Buffalo Sabres welcomed the Pittsburgh Penguins to Ralph Wilson Stadium; last season, when the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings squared off at Wrigley Field.