SUN Hockey Pool

Hamrlik motivated to win

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Roman Hamrlik wouldn't divulge if the rumours were true but word is he spurned more lucrative offers to join the Flames.

The whispers say some five teams chased the defenceman who opted for a two-year, $7-million US pact from Calgary as an unrestricted free agent.

Hamrlik did, however, relay what made Darryl Sutter's offer most appealing.

"I didn't really look at the money, I signed here to try and win the Stanley Cup," said the rearguard after partaking in a conditioning camp skate with a collection of pro players at Father David Bauer Arena yesterday. "This is a hard-working team and really exciting to play for.

"A guy my age, I'm looking to win the Cup. I have a gold medal from the Olympics but when I grew up, it was my goal to win a Stanley Cup.

"Darryl Sutter called me a few times and he was really interested, and that really helps to be called by a GM and be told he really wants you to play for his team."

Hamrlik, the first overall selection of the 1992 draft, introduced himself to a collection of his new teammates -- among them Steve Reinprecht, Stephane Yelle, Shean Donovan, Tony Amonte, Andrew Ference and Steve Montador -- during the session that left him a little tuckered.

"I skipped yesterday because I took my daughter to school for her first day," he said. "I'm a little tired today."

Obviously the altitude can play havoc with a hockey player's conditioning but rest assured Hamrlik will get used to it.

He'd better, seeing as he's expected to, and is expecting to, log upwards of 25 minutes per game, which he did with the New York Islanders during the 2003-04 season.

"It depends how much the coach has confidence in you," said Hamrlik of how much ice time he plans to receive with his fourth NHL squad. "The more I play, the more I feel better on the ice."

Sutter, the Calgary GM/head coach, doesn't expect to make Hamrlik such a workhorse seeing as he has a defence corps that also includes minute eaters Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold and Rhett Warrener at his disposal.

"I think it'll be more dispersed. You have to take into account the situation -- type of team, type of defence, where he's slotted, special teams, all those things," Sutter said. "At the end of the day, minutes are used by media and scouts but what's more important is five-on-five minutes. With our team, you've got four guys that can play a lot of five-on-five minutes, and from there you figure out how much five-on-five time there actually is."

Besides, Hamrlik is expected to do more than just kill the clock. Having collected 441 points during his 873 NHL games, he's being counted on to provide offence to a club that is known for its prowess in the defensive zone but not at the other end of the rink.

Plus, he'll be counted on to help mentor uber-prospect Dion Phaneuf, which could be a big plus to help the club's top prospect become a powerplay quarterback to Hamrlik's degree.

Sutter, however, didn't want to say what kind of offensive expectations he has on Hamrlik.

"He's a solid, all-around guy. I've heard him called a powerplay specialist or a big-minutes guy but I don't view him like that," Sutter said. "I just think he's a really solid, all-around player who is hard to come by and I think our young defencemen will learn a lot from him."


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