Former Young Gun enjoys another shot

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Cale Hulse will don No. 32 again for the Flames.

But make no mistake: He's no longer a Young Gun.

"It's my age, also," noted the newest Flame, who partook in the first practice of his second stint with Calgary yesterday.

Hulse -- part of the Young Guns marketing campaign designed to provide hope to fans supporting a neophyte-filled squad nearly a decade ago -- felt every one of those years Tuesday after being traded to his hometown from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It wasn't the trade deepening those smile lines.

It was the trip to Calgary.

Hulse and his wife, former Baywatch actress Gena Lee Nolin, were supposed to arrive in Calgary, via Chicago, around 8 p.m. Instead, they arrived at 1 a.m., via Toronto.

"It was one of those days," Hulse said. "The icing on the cake was not having our luggage make it. We got my sticks and my hockey equipment and that was it."

Oh well, that's the only downer, shown by the wide grin he was flashing.

"I'm excited. Couldn't be happier," Hulse said.

"I was in a tough situation where I was before and to be given a second chance anywhere was something I hoped for. To be back here in familiar surroundings and with familiar faces is awesome."

Lord knows he has come back to a completely different Flames team than what he left when traded to Nashville in the spring of 2000 for Sergei Krivokrasov.

"And it's the exact opposite of what I was going through in Columbus. If we won a game, it was a big, big deal," Hulse said.

"Here, not only are we expected to win, we're expected to be one of the top things in the league.

"That's a great place to be as a player."

Especially one with more than 600 NHL contests under his belt and only one -- that's right, one -- playoff game, which came during Calgary's 1996 four-game sweep at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.

"There's a lot of people picking this team to go really far in the playoffs," said Hulse, who didn't hide his excitement at the thought of being in a playoff game for the first time in a decade. "The fact it's my hometown, the fact that I've been here, the fact that I know and played with a lot of the guys, you couldn't put me in a better scenario."

Being a Calgary boy -- he skated for the Buffaloes triple-A midget team and the junior A Royals before heading to the WHL -- Hulse can't help but want to be part of a playoff run here.

After all, he witnessed first-hand the run of 2004.

"I grew up here in Calgary a die-hard Flames fan, so to see the way the city supported the team and all the excitement, I became a fan again," he said.


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