Calgary Flames fans are anxiously awaiting the arrival of defenceman Dion Phaneuf.
Voted the best player in junior hockey last year by Prospects magazine, Phaneuf would certainly have competed for an NHL job if not for the lockout.
Instead, he's back in junior with the Red Deer Rebels.
At least until last weekend when Hitmen rookie Brodie Dupont knocked him out of the lineup with a solid hit by the Rebels net.
Red Deer survived a week without its top player, beating Moose Jaw and Swift Current.
Rebels boss Brent Sutter brushed off the modest feat, telling the Red Deer Advocate his club better get used to playing without Phaneuf, who is listed as day-to-day with a shoulder injury.
"You guys make a big deal about it, not us," Sutter told the assembled media types following Saturday's win over the Broncos.
"We know Dion is a really good player but one guy doesn't make a team."
Phaneuf is expected to return to the lineup tomorrow when the Rebels host Kelowna.
OH, THAT TRAP: Scoring is at a premium in WHL.
As of Oct. 29, there had been 34 shutouts recorded in 142 games. Those numbers project to 172 over the season, which would shatter the record of 107 set last season. The previous mark had been 61 in 1999-2000.
TOP PLAYER: Tri-City Americans defenceman Clayton Stoner was named Greyhound WHL Player of the Week yesterday.
The Port McNeill, B.C., product scored two overtime winners and added a pair of assists in wins over Everett and Spokane.
ICE CHIPS: Calgary's Russian import Konstantin Pushkarev, who got caught with an illegal stick in back-to-back games on the weekend, is tied for eighth among rookie scorers with four goals and eight points. Red Deer's Roman Wick of Switzerland leads all freshmen with nine goals and 17 points ... Calgarian Mike Green (Saskatoon) is tops in the league in plus/minus at plus-18. Teammate Wacey Rabbit, also from the Calgary area, sits third at plus-16 ... The struggling Hitmen powerplay is clicking at 10.5%. Only Prince George (9.9%) and Swift Current (7%) are worse.