SUN Hockey Pool

Gelinas wanted return to city

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- Martin Gelinas has never tried to hide the fact he misses Calgary.

He still owns a home in the city and still calls it home when talking to reporters. So it's not exactly a secret he wanted to rejoin the Calgary Flames when he became an unrestricted free agent in July.

"I had two years offered in Florida and, for family reasons, decided to go a different direction," said Gelinas after the morning skate yesterday.

"Obviously, Calgary's gonna be home, and I'm not going to hide that it would have been nice to end up there, but I talked to (Nashville Predators general manager) David Poile and (head coach) Barry Trotz, and they made it really appealing to me.

"I am excited to be here, actually."

The situation this summer was similar to the last time Gelinas hit the open market. His heart was set upon a return to Calgary after the lockout, but being on Darryl Sutter's backburner in terms of priority led him to jump on another deal and head to the Florida Panthers.

He spoke with Sutter again this summer but grew tired of waiting.

"It was just taking too long. Maybe I'm not a patient man," Gelinas said with a laugh. "I've got three kids, too. I've got to put them in school and so on.

"Darryl, I think he knows what he wants, and he went after the players that he wanted right from the start, and it didn't work out for me."

Truth is, he might have been closer to a reunion at last spring's trade deadline when rumours were rampant Gelinas would be on the move. But the Panthers had already traded Gary Roberts and needed to retain a veteran presence.

"My understanding, it was close to happening, but (Panthers coach) Jacques (Martin) wanted to keep me around the young kids for the last stretch," said Gelinas, adding the Panthers believed they would be able to re-sign him. "I was going to until I had a change of heart."

There are no regrets. Gelinas, his wife, son and daughters are enjoying Nashville and its surroundings. He also feels the team can compete despite its personnel losses and uncertainty of future ownership.

The Predators are just as happy with their acquisition.

"To me, it's just the quality of person and the type of player that he is and type of pro that he is that is good for a team that has had a lot of changes and has a lot of young guys on the hockey team," said Trotz, who did a little recruiting in person before Gelinas signed a one-year deal worth $1.25 million.

"He was in Kelowna, and I was in Vernon, so hopefully I had some influence," said Trotz. "I bought him breakfast, and he didn't eat very much. I think he thought, 'I better watch what I eat in front of the coach here.' "

Fitness has ever been a problem for the Shawinigan, Que., product.

"He is cut -- he takes care of himself," Trotz said. "He doesn't say a lot. He leads by example -- sometimes that's the best leadership."


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