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In arena talks, Calgary Flames owners spectacularly misread the shot

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A lot of Calgarians would prefer watching hockey at the 34-year-old Scotiabank Saddledome to turning over tax dollars to NHL owners. (Darko Photography/Shutterstock)

What’s surprising isn’t that the Calgary Flames ownership walked away from the arena negotiations table, with an unsubtle wink-wink that maybe (just maybe! But we don’t want to! But you know …!) they’ll move the hockey team to another city. What’s surprising is that club CEO Ken King played that card now, when talks are at such an early stage, and the public mood in an economically hurting city couldn’t be more averse to sending truckloads of taxpayer dollars going anywhere, let alone to billionaire owners and their wish to bring the goal-scoring joy of Johnny Gaudreau and Lady Gaga gigs to locals who can afford the tickets.

King and lead owner Murray Edwards also thought, for whatever reason, that it raised stakes in their favour to have NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on hand Tuesday as their enforcer to stick it to Mayor Naheed Nenshi and city council, to reinforce the old negotiating tactic of insisting negotiations are dead. “It will play out the way it plays out,” Bettman told reporters after King’s relative good-cop routine. “In the short term, nobody should doubt the Flames’ or their ownership’s commitment to this community, but at some point I envision without a new building there will be consequences that everybody’s going to have to deal with.” Oh, the ominous “but at some point,” and the vague “consequences”—those old canards. This came on the same day that........

© Macleans