Amonte puts doubts to rest

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

The doubts were creeping into Tony Amonte's head.

Nagging suspicions, burrowing their way into the psyche of the Calgary Flames forward.

The fight, however, seems to have turned in his direction. Those anxieties are all but alleviated thanks to a summer's reflection and replaced by optimism heading into a new season.

Most important for his club, Amonte is using his old anxieties for motivation.

"Not to prove anything to anybody else -- to myself," he said yesterday, moments after finishing his fitness tests at the Saddledome.

"You want to prove you can play in this game still and it's not a young man's game and you can still go out and score and compete.

"I want to create offence for the team, score goals and put points on the board. That's a big test for me this season ... I want to prove I can still do it."

There were times last season it appeared the end of his NHL career was in sight for Amonte, who turned 36 this summer. Instead of being a surefire 20-goal scorer, he struggled like never before, potting just 14 goals and enduring a 31-game goal- scoring drought.

He potted two during the Flames' seven-game playoff series loss to Anaheim but the damage was done.

"It sucks when you go out there and the team's losing and you're not scoring. It definitely wears on you," Amonte said. "If the team's winning, it doesn't seem to bother you as much because it's a good atmosphere.

"You want to create offence and when you're not doing it, it's tough."

Heading into the second half of a two-year, $3.7-million US contract, Amonte arrived in the Stampede City having spent the off-season working on his quickness.

Top-end speed was never an issue for him but his goal -- especially since his knees were pain-free for the first time in years -- was to become more explosive and win battles for the pucks.

Still, Amonte's role on the Flames remains up in the air. As a right winger, he's on the depth chart behind Jarome Iginla and possibly Chuck Kobasew. The left wing group includes the likes of Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius, Jeff Friesen and even Marcus Nilson. "My powerplay time may be cut down unless you start producing but that's the way it should be," Amonte said.


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