Flames give Dawes a second chance

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 PM ET

The first impression wasnt exactly what Nigel Dawes was hoping for.

Thankfully for the Calgary Flames forward, he was given another chance right away.

Dawes was part of Calgarys roster in Tuesdays 4-1 pre-season loss to Edmonton, and wasnt all that impressive in the affair. He was given an opportunity to skate in Thursdays tilt against the New York Islanders.

I wasnt really expecting it. If youre gonna go, you might as well keep going, he said. I should be a step ahead because it is my second game and my feet should be under me.

Its a big one for me.

Dawes started the game on a line with Theoren Fleury and probably more importantly second-line centre Daymond Langkow.

Since being claimed off waivers from the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer, Dawes has been itching for a chance to play in a top-six role. That would mean alongside Langkow, and having a chance to try building some chemistry with the veteran centre could mean the team has him pencilled in that spot.

Its what Im shooting for, but nothings set in stone, Dawes said. A spots open and there are three or four guys fighting for two or three spots, so training camp will determine a lot. You have to show you can play in the top six and you belong in one of those spots.

An offensive player in junior he had a 47-goal, 92-point season with the WHLs Kootenay Ice in 2002-03 Dawes has been trying to parlay those skills in the NHL. Hes managed 25 goals and 51 points in 133 games with the New York Rangers and Coyotes, but not become the point producer.

To his benefit is familiarity with the Flames organization. Its no secret GM Darryl Sutter liked the talent possessed by the 5-foot-8, 190-lb. winger.

Plus, Dawes won a gold medal at a world juniors tournament when Flames head coach Brent Sutter was the bench boss.

He demands a lot of his players and holds everyone accountable, Dawes said of Brent Sutter. Theres no grey areas with him. You know what youre going to get night in and night out and he expects the same from you.

Theres no letting down.

Plus, hes hoping time in a big-time hockey environment will help after struggling late last season with Phoenix where he was traded to from New York at the deadline.

Its definitely different. Being in Phoenix, with all that was going on and being out of the playoffs, there wasnt much coverage, he said. Being in Canada, you know youre going to be under the microscope night in and night out and thats exciting. Its closer to home for my family.

Im excited to be there.

Not to mention hes out of the mess surrounding the Coyotes.

I dont think its about where youre playing, Dawes said. Its about the opportunities youre going to get. I think I really fit a lot better with this team than where I was pencilled in Phoenix. Im excited to get this opportunity and Im going to take full advantage of it.


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