Gelly still hopeful

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

The phone call didn't completely clear up the situation but was much appreciated by Martin Gelinas.

Gelinas, the Flames forward who will become an unrestricted free agent if he doesn't ink a new contract by Sunday, had a conversation this week with GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

The gist was Gelinas -- despite reports -- was not completely removed from the team's plans, only that Sutter wasn't sure where the left winger, who netted those three series' winners in the playoffs, fit in.

And Gelinas understood, seeing as Sutter has plenty on his plate with the more immediate need to sign key restricted free agents, such as Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Daymond Langkow, Steve Reinprecht and Jordan Leopold.

"I think it was a classy act," Gelinas said. "He was a real straight shooter, and said, 'We've got to sign Iggy. We've got to sign Kipper. We've got to sign Langkow.' He said he would like to get something done with me but now's not the right time."

Three years ago, Gelinas was an unrestricted free agent and made the bold decision to move from Carolina, who went to the Cup final a couple of months earlier, to Calgary -- which was somewhat against the norm.

He's set down roots in the city, too, living here full time with plans to remain after retirement.

Then there's his contribution to the squad.

At the 2003 training camp he was declared the fittest player, at age 33. His dressing room presence has always been positive, especially in guiding younger players such as Chuck Kobasew.

Plus his production, 38 goals and 87 points over the two seasons, as well as eight goals and 15 points during the 26-game run.

Not to mention he dearly wants to return.

"There's no question about it. I like our team," he said. "I really like our defence. I was looking at our defence and comparing it to other teams and we've got one that's one of the best in the league.

"Plus we've got a real power house up front (in Iginla) and a great goalie in Kipper. It's going to be a great team and I want to be a part of it."

Still, the clock is ticking for Sutter and Gelinas' agent, Steve Kotlowitz, to make a deal.

The question remains exactly what Gelinas is worth in the new world order. He was scheduled to be paid $1.95 million US, and knows the best he can get may involved a pay cut as much as a raise.

"The game has changed and you have to adjust and deal with it," Gelinas said philosophically. "Hopefully we can work something out before Sunday so I don't have to be in a position I don't want to be in.

"Before we signed the new CBA, I said I thought Darryl's got to have a number with me but it's hard to know. I might just find my true value by being on the market."

Either way, he's now fully psyched up to return.

Maybe even score that Stanley Cup final winning goal he came oh so close to potting in the spring of 2004.

"You bet," he said. "That's why I'm in the gym for three hours a day."


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