Disappointment is usually the reigning emotion.
Giffen Nyren’s run at Calgary Flames training camp came to and end Friday, but you couldn’t wipe the grin off his face.
“For other guys, it may be a letdown,” the former Calgary Hitmen defenceman said of heading to the American Hockey League for Abbotsford Heat training camp. “For me, it’s a step up.
“I think this is just another rank in my young career here. We’ll take it from here.”
When his final junior season ended after a run to the Memorial Cup with the Hitmen last spring, Nyren wasn’t sure what his future held for hockey.
Then he got an invite in June from his hometown NHL club to come to prospects camp in July.
That turned into a tryout contract this month, which Nyren handled well despite the uncertainty.
“A lot of nerves coming in here — 21 years old, don’t know what I’m doing with my life,” he said Friday. “Now,
I kind of have an idea.”
Professional hockey is his goal, and now he has the confidence needed to make it happen.
“Absolutely. I’ve got a chance to make a team, and I’m gonna go there with full expectations of doing so,” said Nyren, who Friday signed an AHL contract which is in the process of being finalized.
Heat head coach Jim Playfair liked what he saw in camp with Nyren doing much of what he did with the Hitmen, showing off his wheels and versatility, even practising as a winger Thursday.
“He can play forward. He can play defence. I think he’s got a lot of energy. He showed he’s got a lot of the speed today’s game needs,” Playfair said before catching a plane to Abbotsford.
“I think he’ll be a fun player to coach.”
The 6-foot, 190-lb. blond blueliner met with Flames GM Darryl Sutter before leaving the Saddledome and got a warm sendoff.
“It was actually a lot better than I thought. He kind of gave me a hug, slash, pat on the back,” Nyren said with a laugh.
“He thinks I’ll be an AHL player, I’m AHL-ready and can play in the league. It’s up to me to go and prove that
I deserve that role and be there all year.”
He’s already proven to be a determined and committed player.
After the long WHL playoff run and very little time off and training, he didn’t test as well as he’d have liked at the summer development camp.
“Come September, I was right up there to an acceptable standard where I wanted to be,” said Nyren, who weighed in about five pounds slimmer a little more than a month later.
“That’s a little bit of the fat that got burned off.”
His scope is narrowing, too, with his sights now set on sticking around in the AHL.
Not bad for a kid who didn’t know what he’d be doing or where he’d be doing it before that call in June came from the Flames.
“Absolutely. When I got the call in June, it was surprising,” Nyren said.
“They like what I have to offer and that makes me happy. I hope it makes them happy.”