'Not that big a deal'

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

Calgary Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter couldn't care less if backup goalie Roman Turek walks out on the NHL club. With contradictory reports coming out of Roman Turek's native Czech Republic yesterday, including one saying he'd cancelled his contract with the Flames, then another report denying it, Sutter took it all in stride.

Under lockout conditions, with the NHL in limbo, there's not much else Sutter really can do.

"For me it's not that big a deal. We re-did his contract last year to extend his years out and to help us money-wise. If he makes the decision to not play anymore, hey, we move on and that's that," said Sutter, who drove to Cranbrook yesterday and watched his son Brett and the Kootenay Ice take on the Kelowna Rockets in WHL playoff action.

The CTK news agency reported Turek had cancelled his contract with the Flames but that was denied by Turek's agent, Ritch Winter, yesterday afternoon.

Turek's Czech league team, HC Ceske Budejovice, said on its website it hoped to sign him later this month. Turek would have made $1 million US this season, had there not been a lockout and is scheduled to make $1.5 million in 2005-06.

"His (Czech) contract expires at the end of this year, he has an option to extend it," Winter said.

"I think the Czech team is perhaps announcing their intention aware of this fact. But Roman has not entered into an agreement with them, he has not negotiated an agreement with them, so his future is as yet undetermined like about 690 of his teammates and opponents.

"They're jumping the gun but we'll see what the end result is once we know what the landscape is."

As for the Flames, Sutter said the organization hasn't heard anything from either Turek or Winter.

"We haven't been informed of anything, so we'll leave it at that," Sutter said, adding many veteran European players who went home during the lockout likely won't play in the NHL again. "He's a locked-out player and that's how we look at it. Some of those older players, they make decisions and that's really got nothing to do with us.

"The league, as we knew it a year ago, is not the same league anymore and that means that there'll be a lot of player changes too."

When Sutter joined the Flames in Dec. 2002, one of his goals was to reduce the overall age on the club and he noted Turek's no spring chicken.

"The bottom line is Roman is 34 and, at some point, he's going to retire," said Sutter.

"If this becomes reality, then he retires and we move on.

"I've always said over and over that one of the biggest problems we faced in this organization was it had to get younger. So, we extended Roman's contract to allow our young goalies to prepare to play in the NHL, so if and when Roman makes the decision to retire, then we'll move on from there."

Winter noted resolving the lockout will be a factor in Turek's future plans.

"There's a lot of uncertainty," Winter said. "Roman's an older player who's got three children. We've talked about what his options will be, we've communicated them to the Flames. Depending how the labour situation is resolved, Roman, and ultimately working with Darryl Sutter and others, we'll make a decision."

In terms of prospects in the organization, Brent Krahn of the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters, Curtis McElhinney of Colorado College and Sebastien Centomo aren't ready for the NHL just yet.


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