Flames lose Thorson to back ailment

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:57 AM ET

The Calgary Flames have quietly lost one of its longest-serving and most decorated dressing room leaders.

After 11 years behind the Flames bench, equipment manager Gus Thorson has succumbed to a back ailment that has him on disability leave.

A quarter-century of sharpening skates, outfitting players and lugging upwards of 5,000 lb. of equipment for various local teams like the Calgary Canucks and the Wranglers, the University of Calgary, Team Canada and the Flames have provided endless memories for the quiet equipment guru. It has also worn his 50-year-old body to the point he needed back surgery weeks before last year’s training camp — a procedure he likely rushed back from too soon.

“I have no regrets — I’ve done a lot of things a lot of people haven’t,” said the New Brunswick native who took care of the players’ every need while at the rink. “I worked games in 18 countries, been to the Olympics with Wayne Gretzky, won a world championship, done an all-star game and went to the Stanley Cup final. But all that took its toll on my back.”

Always quick with a replacement stick or equipment repair, Thorson gives way to his assistant, Mark DePasquale, who has almost two decades of NHL experience and hits a hell of a golf ball.

“I do have to say the Flames have been absolutely terrific through this,” Thorson said.

“They’ve been much more than fair and taken care of me in every way. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Now, more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering which MMA outfit will be the one to promote the Chris Pronger/Adam Burish tilt.

Around the horn

So two teams settle nothing by going scoreless for 90 minutes, take a handful of shots on goal and do little to inspire viewers. Yet both teams leave the match “very pleased” with the result. And we’re supposed to call this “the beautiful game?” … Chris Pronger was the best player in the Stanley Cup final due largely to his ability to shut down Jonathan Toews. However, ‘Captain Serious’ was the best Chicago Blackhawks player over four rounds, which is obviously why he got the Conn Smythe Trophy. Incidentally, Toews got a US$1.3-million bonus for being named playoff MVP, which put the Hawks over the salary cap and will mean the club will be even further handcuffed next year when the team will have to include such overpayments in their 2010-11 cap … In Darryl Sutter’s six full seasons as GM, the Flames have racked up the league’s seventh-highest regular-season point total. The order: Detroit (675 points), San Jose (648), New Jersey (616), Ottawa (591), Vancouver (589), Dallas (584) and Calgary (575).

Parting gifts

Following a steady downturn in British Petroleum’s share price, this line from a company mouthpiece is worth repeating as it exhibits the sort of stupidity often seen in the sports world: “BP is unaware of any reason to justify movement (of the stock).” Clueless … One minor-league baseball team is so sick of the oil giant’s incompetence it has banned the term BP to describe its batting practice … You don’t have to like baseball to appreciate what Steven Strasburg has done for the game and for a sad-sack club such as the Washington Nationals … I speak on behalf of all sports fans when I say what a relief it was to see Boof Bonser back from a Bosox rehab assignment … The only thing worse than Casey Printers’ attitude the last few years has been his record, which has seen him win just two of his last 28 pro starts. Yet, optimism abounds in Vancouver.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca


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