New Flames settle in

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

When Christopher Higgins came to Calgary, he was given a place with a maid.

Every day, he comes back home and his room is clean.

Staying in a hotel is OK for a few days, but the new Calgary Flames forward is now on the hunt for his own place.

“It’s not great for a couple months,” Higgins said. “It’s nice to throw things around and have it clean when you come back from practice.

“But I like my own space and I’m looking to get an apartment pretty soon.”

The Olympic break may be an oddity for most NHLers who live a strict routine during the season, but for the six new Flames that joined the team just before the Vancouver Games started, this time off is just what they need.

When Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers, Niklas Hagman and Ian White arrived from the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 31 in the Dion Phaneuf deal, the foursome made their on-ice debuts the next night.

They played seven games in the next 14 days.

On Feb. 1, the Flames traded for Higgins and Ales Kotalik from the New York Rangers in exchange for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.

They were in Calgary for one game Feb. 3 before going on a three-game road trip, and played a total of six games in 12 days.

The deal took Higgins by surprise, and he’s now living temporarily in a hotel but still has a lease on a place in New York.

“If anybody’s looking for one, I have a nice spot in Chelsea for rent,” Higgins said with a laugh.

Getting traded in mid-

season brings about the usual troubles of adjusting to a new group of players, but off the ice it can be just as hectic.

That’s why the 10-day break away from the rink was unique and welcome.

Defenceman Ian White and centre Matt Stajan took a vacation to the Bahamas together — it was planned before the deal — but have already found a condo in Calgary.

Compounding the move for White is that the defenceman brought his wife Tessa and seven-month-old son Paxton along as well.

“The toughest part of our business is getting trade like that and having a few hours to get uprooted and have to pack up things and figure out logistics,” White said.

“It’s more difficult on the wives and children than it is on us. We just pack up and say we’re going on a road trip. It is difficult but, hopefully, it doesn’t happen too many times. I can deal with it one time.”

The Flames hit the ice Wednesday and will practise six time in seven days.

Although it’s similar to training camp, there is a plenty of down time for the newbies to finally get to know Calgary a little bit.

“We’re using the afternoons to get to know the city,” said Stajan, who hails from Mississauga, Ont. “The guys have been great and make us feel welcome.

“Maybe this weekend we can get out to Banff to try and see what that is like.”

During the break, Higgins went back to Long Island to visit family and get his life straightened out.

He’s also using the next week to get used to Calgary, but this might be his only chance.

Once the season gets going again Wednesday, there is

20 games in 39 days.

“This is a fun part of the year so to make Calgary feel like home will be important,” Higgins said. “It will help my game out on the ice.”


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