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Fans' flame still burns for them

After coaching the Flames to the Stanley Cup in 1989, Terry Crisp would have won by a landslide had he run for mayor here.

Even Friday, on the occasion of his annual in-season trek with the Lightning to Calgary, the ever-popular coach was greeted with "Howdy Crispy" on the message board at Dusty's Saloon, Crisp's favorite hangout near the Saddledome.

Then last season, his only full one in a brief stay with the Flames, journeyman goalie Rick Tabaracci took over the throne. With a regular-season record of 19-16-3, a knack for locker room leadership and an effervescent grin, Tabaracci won over Calgary.

"Tabby owned this city," said Jamie Huscroft, the ex-Flames defenseman traded this week to the Lightning.

He did, that is, until Calgary dished the career backup to Tampa Bay in exchange for forward Aaron Gavey.

So when Tabaracci arrived in town for Friday's late-starting game against the Flames, newspaper, radio and television reporters were all waiting.

"I was ready for that," said Tabaracci, who got the start against Jason Kidd, his ex-teammate and rival who once suggested he couldn't cheer for his fellow goalie because it would cost him playing time. But Tabaracci downplayed the showdown. "They were looking for the big story, but there just wasn't one there."