The Calgary Roughnecks’ 2011 season was a season to remember.
The Riggers had the best record in the entire National Lacrosse League at 11-5 and made it all the way to the Western Division Final. Yet, through all of Calgary’s accomplishments during the year, the Roughnecks’ future was in doubt.
Days prior to the season, owner Brad Banister announced that he was looking to sell the team, making many fans in Calgary wonder if the team would move or fold at the end of the year.
Fans in the Stampede City will not have to worry about either, as the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames bought the franchise and will keep the team in Calgary.
"We look forward to building off of the great franchise that Brad Banister and his team have developed over the past 10 years," said Flames President and CEO Ken King in a news release. "The Roughnecks provide great entertainment to the city of Calgary and we are confident we can continue the great tradition of fielding championship quality teams for many years to come."
Banister said he is glad that the Flames stepped up and bought the team .
"I am extremely pleased we were able to do a deal with the Calgary Flames that will ensure the Calgary Roughnecks will stay in the community that has stood by them for the last 10 years," Bannister said. “Their involvement and participation means that the thousands of kids and fans which currently support the organization, as well as its players, will continue to have something to look up and aspire to.”
Since Calgary’s inception in 2001, youth participation in lacrosse in the province of Alberta has increased from 3,000 players to more than 11,000 players today, according to the news release.
The Roughnecks, who celebrated their 10th anniversary season last year, has been one of the most successful franchises in league history. They won the 2004 and 2009 championship, made the postseason in nine of 10 seasons—only missing in their first year—and hosted the 2005 NLL All Star Game.
The Riggers are now the fourth NLL team that is also owned by a hockey franchise. They join the Colorado Mammoth, who are owned by the Colorado Avalanche, the Buffalo Bandits, who are owned by the Buffalo Sabres, and the Rochester Knighthawks, who are part of the same group that owns the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
The Roughnecks will now have an official place to call home in the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Flames arena that they have played their home games in for the last decade.
Ron Knabenbauer is a National Lacrosse League Correspondent for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials.