As Calgary Flames training camp begins its second week, here is a brief round-up of the storylines emerging in and around the Scotiabank Saddledome.
THE CAPTAIN ISN’T QUITE BACK
After skating with Mikael Backlund and Sven Baertschi for roughly 20 minutes during last Saturday’s practice, Jarome Iginla pulled himself off the ice with back spasms and hasn’t hit the ice since. When speaking with media earlier this week, Iginla noted that if not for it being the pre-season, he may be playing through the pain.
“I’m not far off,” said Iginla. “If it were a different time-table I might be more aggressive, but right now, with the way it works, I have the opportunity to make sure to get the proper healing time.”
Iginla isn’t expected to play in either of this weekend’s pre-season tilts with the Edmonton Oilers.
FLAMES REDUCE ROSTER TO 44
Following the first set of pre-season games with the Vancouver Canucks, the Flames trimmed 19 bodies from camp.
Headed to Abbotsford are G Adam Avramenko, D John Negrin, D James Martin, LW Turner Elson, C John Armstrong, RW Bryan Cameron, C Justin Dowling, LW Ryley Grantham, RW Ryan Howse, C Quintin Laing, LW Logan MacMillan, RW Jon Rheault, LW C.J. Severyn, C Dustin Sylvester & C Mitch Wahl. The Flames released RW Blake Gal back to his junior club, while assigning prospects RW Michael Ferland, RW Patrick Holland & D Joey Leach back to their WHL teams.
While none of the moves were particularly surprising given the log-jam of players presently in Calgary’s camp, getting cut from the main group was disappointing news for all. Forward Ryan Howse, just a summer removed from a 50-goal campaign with the Chilliwack Bruins, looked forward to the opportunity ahead in Abbotsford.
“Obviously the ultimate goal is to make the team, but you just try to take the positives out of it, I think,” said Howse. “[It] was a tough pill to swallow. You want to stick around as long as you can, but you’ve just got to take it… learn from your mistakes, bring it down to Abbotsford and now got to try to make this team now.”
An added wrinkle to the cuts was the announcement by the Flames of the signing of 19-year-old RW Turner Elson and 20-year-old D James Martin to entry level contracts. The signings bring the Flames up to their 50 contract limit…but only if both guys play. Elson returned to the Red Deer Rebels in time for the season-opening game, while Martin has the ability to either turn pro or return to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice as an over-age player.
BAERTSCHI & REINHART REMAIN IN CAMP; LETOURNEAU-LEBLOND SUSPENDED
Despite the cuts, Flames 2011 first rounder LW Sven Baertschi and 2010 third rounder C Max Reinhart are still in camp. While their respective junior clubs begin their regular seasons this weekend, Reinhart and Baertschi remain focused on giving the Flames a number of reasons not to cut them. However, the suspension of LW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond for the balance of the pre-season – combined with injuries to Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrison and Raitis Ivanans – also means that the two teenagers are an important part of the Flames icing full rosters for this weekend’s pre-season games.
“Anything can happen,” said Baertschi. “You never know when they’re going to send you back, or if they want to keep you for awhile. It’s their decision, so you can make it hard for them by playing good out there on the ice and [practicing] well.”
Baertschi performed well in his pre-season debut in Vancouver, while Reinhart has yet to get into a game due to an illness.