Wow! The Battle of Alberta is definitely back!
Just when it appeared the on-ice hostilities between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had eroded into just another date on the schedule and gone flatter than a $6 beer at the Saddledome, the tension has returned.
The latest tilt between the two squads this past Monday night had all the makings of a classic encounter; plenty of offence, a late-game comeback, hard-hitting, and of course a pair of decent first period tilts – the better of the two just five seconds into the contest. Despite the on-ice action the truest tide-turning, mood-setting, rivalry-rekindling event actually occurred in the stands, just behind the Oilers bench to be exact.
With seven minutes left to go in what should have been a cakewalk to the final buzzer for the home side leading 4 – 0, Flames mascot and local icon Harvey the Hound got into the thick of things with the members of Edmonton's lifeless bench. Oilers coach Craig MacTavish took obvious exception to the barbs drooled down upon his squad by the candid canine and proceeded to rip out Harvey's tongue. That's right, tore it clean from his jowls in fact. MacTavish even went as far as threatening to lay the lumber to the poor pooch before cooler heads prevailed.
The pseudo-melee appeared to light a fire under more than the coach's collar - although no one north of Red Deer will ever admit that it took a six-foot cartoon dog to get the Oil up for a game - as Edmonton responded with three late goals making the final 2:45 far more interesting than it should have been.
Harvey has clearly taken coach Sutter's message to make the Saddledome a tougher place to play to heart.
Flames spokesman Peter Hanlon has responded with "Usually he's our seventh man, but this time perhaps he went too far." I can't say I agree with this spin-doctored rebuttal. Not since Theoren Fleury wore the Flaming C proudly on his chest have the Flames had a more effective agitator. When was the last time a visiting coach horrendously maimed a member of the Flames organization during a game? That's right, never. As far as I'm concerned the Flames should bring Harvey on the road with them. Let him loose on the other 28 coaches in the league. See how many furry body parts he can lose during the course of a single game – hello has anyone even thought of calling Guinness yet?
So the next time these two teams resume their rivalry, two weeks from this Friday in Edmonton to be exact, take a moment to remember the canine catalyst who unselfishly sacrificed himself and helped rekindle one of the best rivalries in the world of sports.
INJURY NOTES: Harvey was rushed to the vet immediately after the game where he underwent a successful tongue transplant and is currently working with a speech therapist to regain his ability to taunt opposing teams. He is expected to make a full recovery and citing the unfortunate incident as part of the job, has decided not press charges.