SUN Hockey Pool

Seeing is believing — and then some — for Flames rookie

Flames forward Roman Horak skates during practice at the Corral in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 30, 2011....

Flames forward Roman Horak skates during practice at the Corral in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 30, 2011. (LYLE ASPINALL/QMI Agency)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:17 AM ET

CALGARY - Of all the adjustments Roman Horak has had to make the last seven weeks to become the feel-good story of the Calgary Flames’ young season, getting contact lenses had to have been one of the biggest.

“Oh, yeah,” laughed the 20-year-old winger, “that was tough at the beginning.”

It was during Flames’ medical testing on Day 1 of camp Horak’s poor vision test results prompted a visit to the eye doctor, where it was determined for the first time in his life he was, in fact, near-sighted and needed contacts.

Anyone who has gone through the experience of wearing contacts for the first time can tell you how awkward it can be at first, making his surprising emergence from camp all the more remarkable.

“Now that I see, the difference it’s huge,” said the rookie centre, who has two goals and three assists in seven outings.

“With that and all the other things happening … this year has gone kind of quick to me.”

Given all the criticism the Flames have received for a decade of scouting shortcomings, GM Jay Feaster and the scouts deserve praise for the hasty trade made this summer to land Horak in exchange for malcontent prospect Tim Erixon. Flames fans can take even greater solace in learning Erixon was demoted to the AHL by the Rangers Sunday.

Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering if there’s anything quite as lame or hollow as a championship trophy presentation preceded by a scripted speech read poorly by a commissioner. Just roll with it, Bud Selig.

AROUND THE HORN

As reported on The Hotstove Saturday, the NHL All-Star Game’s player draft will return for a second year, and you can bet Phil Kessel won’t be the last pick this time around. In fact, given the way the Toronto Maple Leafs sniper has opened the season, he’s an early candidate to go first overall, which wouldn’t be popular with host fans in Ottawa ... While many figure his NHL career is over following a tough year in Chicago, 36-year-old Marty Turco is working out with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and hoping for another opportunity in the NHL. Happy to accept any role he can find, the affable veteran might just be a good mentor for a young goalie like, say, Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets ... Speaking of the Blue Jackets, a report surfaced in a Columbus paper Sunday suggesting the club could clean house as early as Monday, with Ken Hitchcock and former Flames GM Craig Button taking over as coach and GM, respectively. Button immediately took to Twitter to point our he has not spoken with the club and wished embattled GM Scott Howson all the best as he tries to turn the team’s disastrous start around.

PARTING GIFTS

As one GM put it, the firing of Montreal assistant Perry Pearn “was like firing the second in command on the Titanic.” ... Great anecdote from HNIC’s Dean Brown during Saturday afternoon’s Sens/Rangers broadcast pointing out the father of Ottawa Senators Swedish callup Robin Lehner was once the goalie coach for Henrik Lundqvist … The only question I had for John Hufnagel at the Stamps’ annual preseason media luncheon was how he sold Drew Tate on re-signing in Calgary when a starter’s job was essentially waiting for him in Toronto. “Did I make any promises to him (that he’d eventually be the starter ahead of Henry Burris)? I’d never do that,” Huf said. “If you do that, you put yourself in that corner and stand there for a while with a dunce cap. I think we had an advantage because Drew wanted to be here. He loves it here.” … Has anyone stopped to think about the fact some of the magic of Game 6 of the World Series would have been lost had the National League not won the all-star game, giving St. Louis home-field advantage? … For the record, the Pens are a mind-boggling 31-16-7 since Sidney Crosby was lost to his concussion.


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