Darren McCarty has been looking forward to pulling on a Calgary Flames jersey in a meaningful game.
He's going to have to wait a little while longer.
Although the free-agent acquisition will be suiting up when the Battle of Alberta begins unofficially in Edmonton tonight (7 p.m., FAN 960), he says what he's really looking forward to is the regular-season rivalry.
"I wouldn't put too much stock in it," McCarty said of tonight's pre-season opener. "All teams right now, especially early in exhibition, are trying to get a look at some guys and guys are just trying to feel each other out."
That doesn't mean McCarty, who again played with winger Jason Wiemer and centre Matthew Lombardi for Team Red during yesterday's intra-squad game at the Saddledome, isn't excited about making the trip. He knows a little something about rivalries.
His former team, the Detroit Red Wings, have had many regular-season and playoff battles over the past decade. Some more nasty than others.
"The only thing I can compare (the Battle of Alberta) to is our battles with Colorado over the years with Detroit," said McCarty.
"You've got guys that played a lot on both teams and battled each other."
McCarty's formidable checking line will be part of the team GM/head coach Darryl Sutter brings north for tonight's matchup.
McCarty managed to put a potential fire out on the ice yesterday at the 'Dome when fellow veteran Chris Simon got into a chippy stick battle with a couple of Team Red players and was ordered to the penalty box. McCarty skated up to the 6-ft. 4-in. monster, gave him a friendly bump and a few words of wisdom before the gate closed and Simon's two-minute sentence began.
"Old times. Just messing around," said McCarty with a grin afterward. "I think he was a little upset, so I had to try to put a smile on his face."
McCarty and Simon, who cut their teeth in the Ontario Hockey League, have been playing against each other since they were 16 years old.
"He's an intense guy," said McCarty. "When we step on the ice, we know one way to play. "
McCarty doesn't expect it to be all fun and games tonight, despite his prediction the game won't be a true Battle of Alberta classic.
"When it matters, I'm sure it will heat up," he said.
"It's a unique situation after having a year off. It's always a great rivalry.
"I know watching it from a distance, it's always great hockey when Calgary and Edmonton play, so it's just nice to be a part of it."