Juice on the loose

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

The nervous laughter from Kristian Huselius told quite a tale.

Huselius, the Calgary Flames forward and pending unrestricted free agent, was asked if he could see himself playing another season with Mike Keenan as head coach.

"It depends," he said, stalling the conversation with his laughter. "Depends where that situation is gonna be at. We'll see about that one."

Huselius and Keenan butted heads in the waning games of the NHL season.

The slick-skating left winger saw his ice time diminish greatly and was a healthy scratch for one game.

"It's not a fun situation to sit out or be benched for stretches," Huselius said.

"Some games you play a little less than you're used to and that's tough. It makes you stronger. You just have to be positive and do what you can to be ready to play."

Even without taking that situation into account, odds are Huselius won't remain in Calgary.

He's expected to sign a deal elsewhere beyond what the Flames could pay him even if they wanted to keep him in the fold.

"It's gonna be a tough decision, for sure, whatever happens," he said.

"I'm looking for a team that I fit in, as the player I am, the role I want to play and stuff like that.

"That's what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for a place I'm not gonna play my role.

"I need a couple of weeks to just rest now and then I'm gonna think about my situation this summer and we'll see. It's a big decision for me and my family and my career."

Huselius and the rest of the Flames packed up their gear yesterday. The next time he's at the 'Dome, he might be headed to the visitor's room.

Still, Huselius didn't want to take any parting shots at the Flames, especially since it's the organization that resurrected his career.

In 216 regular-season games over two-plus campaigns, he collected 74 goals and 180 points.

Before the Flames acquired him from Florida, Huselius was put on waivers and there were no takers.

"This place has been unbelievable for me," Huselius said. "I came from Florida, a totally different environment, and the fans are unbelievable. The teammates have been great. I stepped it up as a hockey player.

"Since I came here to Calgary, I really stepped it up and showed myself and everyone else that I'm a better player. I had some tough stretches here but overall I (made) a pretty good impression.

"It's been a great time here and I love playing with the guys and the fans for the team."

Although his season ended on such low point, Huselius, who collected four assists in the seven-game playoff run, doesn't believe it was that bad.

"Up and down, I would say," he said. "Obviously, I want to be more consistent, but overall it was not a bad season, 66 points, we had a good team, made the playoffs in a tough conference and tough division. We were close to winning the division.

"We played, in the playoffs, one of the favourites to win the Cup and we pushed them to Game 7. It was a close series."


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