Flames hopefuls feeling Heat

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

Today is the day coaches and players dread.

On the eve of a new NHL season come the final cuts.

For the Flames, three men who already cleared waivers await word on whether or not they'll be with the big club for tomorrow's season opener against the Vancouver Canucks.

At least one, potentially all three, of Jamie Lundmark, Colin Stuart and Jason Jaffray could be sent down to the AHL Abbotsford Heat as the Flames get down to a 23-man roster or less.

Stuart is on a one-way deal, but his half-million-dollar salary comes off the cap if he's in the minors. The other pair are on two-way deals.

The final decision now rests with the coach.

"It's a brutal part of the game but it's reality, and you have to deal with it," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter.

"It's extremely hard. It's always hard when you have to make decisions on players. It's the toughest thing for a coach, but decisions have to be made."

Sending young, unpolished kids to the minors is one thing.

Telling seasoned veterans there's no room for them is tougher.

That's the case with any of the 25 remaining campers sent down today.

"There's two scenarios -- the scenario of young players that want it all now but they still don't realize what it's gonna take at this level," said Sutter.

"A lot of it (in other cases) has to do with what your roster's like, players that have been around for a bit yet they can't quite ...

"You feel bad for them."

Waiting has taken a toll on Lundmark, who scored twice and earned five points in four pre-season games.

"It's a tough time of year," he said yesterday. "It's never easy. Obviously my goal is to make this team, and it's never easy. I'm happy with what I did. I think I had a good camp -- scored some goals, produced offensively, played solid defence -- I pretty much did what I wanted to do.

"The decision is just up to them now."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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