Higgins: I just want to help

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

Chris Higgins, fresh off his first skate as a member of the Calgary Flames, held court in the locker-room after Tuesday’s afternoon practice, trying to describe the style of hockey he brings to the Saddledome.

Unbeknownst to many, an expert was sitting on the other side of the room.

“He’s the type of addition that can really help this team,” said Flames winger Eric Nystrom. “He’s got a lot of skill, is fast, plays a tenacious game. He’s really gonna help us a lot.

“I think fans are going to be really surprised with him.”

Higgins, the newest new guy on the Flames roster, will have an opportunity to introduce himself to the Sea of Red during Wednesday’s showdown with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 26-year-old winger met the majority of his Flames teammates for the first time Tuesday. He and Nystrom, though, go waaaayyyyy back.

They grew up together in New York, were linemates at the annual Quebec International PeeWee Tournament and both suited up for Team USA a back-to-back world junior hockey championship in 2002 and 2003.

“He’s obviously one of my best friends and it’s going to be a real thrill to be playing alongside him,” Higgins said. “I’ve known him such a long time that it’ll be able to make the transition a little easier for me.”

Aside from his friendship with Nystrom, this is a brave new world for Higgins, whose stint with his hometown Rangers ended late Monday when he and Ales Kotalik were traded to Calgary in exchange for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.

Higgins never lived up to his lofty billing on Broadway, failing to find the stroke that saw him light the lamp 84 times in four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens.

The former first-rounder had just six goals in 55 outings with the Blueshirts before being shipped to the Stampede City. His scoring swoon was a hot topic of conversation on his first day as Flames property, but Higgins had already shifted his focus to what lies ahead.

“It’s hard to talk about myself,” he said. “I just want to help the team win. Coming into a team that’s desperate for wins and leaving a team that was in the same situation, I’m just trying to find my niche on the team and fit in as seamlessly as possible.”

Higgins’ arrival won’t send shockwaves through the dressing room in Chicago or San Jose, but the Flames have high hopes for the former Yale University sniper.

Flames GM Darryl Sutter called him “our type of player.”

“He fits the mould of the player we like around here,” Nystrom added. “We need some offence, so we need that from him, and I think he’s got a lot of energy.”


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