D-man pressed into duty

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

DETROIT -- Sitting, watching, waiting from the pressbox.

It's been David Hale's lot in life this season.

However, those days of extra time spent on the ice after nearly everyone else has gone to the room after morning skates and taking part in every optional session may well be on the back-burner for the Calgary Flames defenceman with Rhett Warrener on the shelf for a while with a broken leg.

It's an opportunity Hale, acquired from the New Jersey Devils at last year's trade deadline, hasn't had with the Flames since joining them.

"It's nice to know I've got another chance. It's up to me to make the most of it," said the 26-year-old first-round draft choice from 2000.

"After playing a while, you get in the groove and get a feel for your partner a little more. Hopefully, we'll be able to have partners solidified.

"It's a lot easier than being in and out."

So far this season, Hale has spent more time out of the lineup than in. He's suited up for 10 of 23 contests, netting a single assist in his time. His return to the lineup in St. Louis came on the heels of sitting out six in a row.

Sure, the NHL salary and the lifestyle that comes with it is great, but all players in his situation want their opportunity to shine.

"You don't like to see a teammate get hurt, but on the other hand you've got to be ready. Part of my job is to be ready and on standby and perform when I get the chance," said Hale, who skated in 11 regular-season games and two playoff contests after being acquired with a fifth-round pick for a third rounder. "I think you've just got to sit back and somewhat stay relaxed, and when you get in there, make the most of the opportunity and have fun with it."

Therein lies the secret: Make sure you remain excited at the possibilities.

"Of course, it's fun. It's not fun losing, but you have fun playing the game," Hale said. "If you don't, I think there's a problem."

Seeing as he'll likely be able to skate in a string of games, this spell may be what Hale needs to net his first NHL goal, a big quest for the defender who's played in 167 big-league games.

However, heading into tonight's clash against the Detroit Red Wings, he's more concerned with keeping on the upswing from a solid game in St. Louis in which he registered a shot on goal and three hits in nearly 14 minutes.

"I hadn't been in for a while and there were a few mistakes, but for the most part I felt positionally it was all right," Hale said. "It was a good building block."

ICE CHIPS

Although the Flames are stil awaiting MRI results on D Rhett Warrener's leg, coach Mike Keenan said they think it's broken and for sure he suffered a high-ankle sprain.


Videos

Photos