Flames hope rash of injuries go away

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:30 PM ET

It's a rash the Flames have had to scratch before.

The timing of their brutal injury situation, however, is a lot less annoying this time around.

Ask winger Curtis Glencross what he'd rather see, and he'll tell you from personal experience it's better to have an outbreak of injuries in the pre-season than be one of many sitting out down the stretch when a playoff position is on the line.

"You can't do nothing to help. It's frustrating when you're sitting on the sidelines the last 15-20 games watching," said Glencross, who was dealing with a knee injury last season as his Flames limped to the finish line and missed the playoffs for the first time since the lockout. "There's nothing you can do."

Joining him were Daymond Langkow, who's still recovering from a fractured vertebrae at the base of his neck, and Christopher Higgins.

But that was nothing compared to what the Flames had to deal with in the late stages of the 2008-09 campaign.

Mark Giordano wrecked his shoulder, Robyn Regehr hurt a knee, Rene Bourque sprained an ankle, Cory Sarich broke a foot, Langkow broke a hand, Adrian Aucoin missed games, Craig Conroy suffered multiple ailments, then Dion Phaneuf broke ribs in the playoffs.

It was a scenario former coach Mike Keenan suggested ultimately got him fired.

"It was a weird year," said Conroy, whose team dropped out of a comfortable division lead and finished fifth, setting up a matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. "That year, we were battling and we didn't have enough players. I've never seen anything like it.

"It was non-stop guys. We were thinking, 'Holy cow, this is awful.'

"When you think back, you'd rather have it right now."

Daymond Langkow (neck), Matt Stajan (shoulder), Ales Kotalik (knee), David Moss (shoulder) and Ryan Stone (knee) are all listed out indefinitely, but Stajan is currently skating and testing out his shoulder, and could return relatively early in the regular season.

Olli Jokinen and Rene Bourque returned to action Sunday, and Regehr figures it's easier to fill in for the regulars now than it would be in March or April.

"The worst time you can get an injury is coming down the stretch run. You're jockeying for playoff position. If you have a bad injury and are gone an extended period of time, you miss time right into the playoffs," said Regehr, who still shakes his head at the misfortune the Flames had two seasons ago.

"I had a knee injury. Cory had a broken foot from a puck. For the most part, they were serious injuries.

"Rotten luck, really. And bad timing. It's easier to deal with now."

Conroy agrees.

"Knock on wood, you'd rather not have injuries. But if you're going to have them, let's have them now," he said.

"You'd rather be fighting with your whole team for 70 games down the stretch than lose all those guys at the end when you need to win the last six games, let's say.

"Hopefully all those injuries run their course and they're done for the year."

The Flames have focused on getting off to a great start this season, and that's still their plan.

They'll just need other characters to step up in place of the regulars.

With any luck, they'll manage to stay healthy and avoid meeting the same fate as so many of their teammates.

"For us it seems to happen that way. There's a snowball rolling down the hill effect," Regehr said.

"I hope this little rash of injuries goes away fairly quickly."

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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