Steve Staios arrived for training camp leaner and lighter.
In part, it’s the battle to beat Father Time, which becomes increasingly harder to do at age 37.
It’s also to be competitive for a job on a team which has eight blueliners on one-way contracts, and another who must clear waivers to go to the minors in 2005 first-round draft choice Matt Pelech.
“As a player, you don’t really concentrate on that,” Staios said Wednesday.
“You concentrate on what you’re trying to accomplish and get yourself as fit as you can, so when you come into camp, you can help the team out.”
Still, everybody knows something has to give among the blueline brigade. Calgary is over the US$59.4-million salary cap, and obviously, some paring down will happen among the defencemen.
Staios gave the answer all players will provide when asked about the situation but did what he could in the off-season to give his best shot.
“Last year, dealing with some injuries, they didn’t let me work out at some times. I dealt with some minor concussion stuff, which was really minor, but you can’t train and work through,” he said.
“I did a lot more stuff on the ice starting July 1 than I did past years. It’s paid off.”
Among those blueliners on one-way deals is Staffan Kron-wall, who publicly admitted in the summer he was hoping to sign with a team in Europe — preferably his home country of Sweden. Neither that nor a trade to an East Coast team came to fruition, and Kronwall is in Calgary.
“I’m here now, so I’m going to do my best to stay here and we’ll see what happens,” said the defenceman who spent more than half of last season with the AHL Abbotsford Heat.
“It had nothing to do with Calgary, me wanting to go back home. I got married this summer and my wife is going to stay back home this year, and it’s tough to have a long-distance thing,” Kronwall said.
“I feel the hockey is just as good in Sweden as in Abbotsford, probably even better, and I could be with my family.”
As well, assistant GM Jay Feaster said Ales Kotalik will be at camp. Kotalik, who has a contract with two years worth US$6 million, was placed on waivers in the summer.