On a day when there was snow on the ground and a chill in the air, the Boys of Winter, Calgary edition, gathered at Canada Olympic Park, same as they do four days every week, to prepare for an NHL season that may or may not take place.

On Thursday, the Calgary Flames were originally scheduled to play their 2012-13 home opener against the Vancouver Canucks.

Hope was palpable, as it always is, in every NHL city at this time of year. The Flames had appointed a new coach in Bob Hartley, a former Stanley Cup winner. They’d been active in free agency, signing Jiri Hudler away from the Detroit Red Wings and Roman Cervenka from the Continental Hockey League in Russia. Team captain Jarome Iginla looked re-energized. Defenceman Jay Bouwmeester didn’t get traded away as a salary-cap casualty after all. Mark Giordano was continuing his push into the higher echelons of NHL defencemen.

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