Mikael Backlund is starting the season in the NHL, and he has a new number to prove it.
But he has a lot to prove in the number, too.
“I had it in Abbotsford last year, and I didn’t play that good in Abby,” said Backlund, who admitted Tuesday No. 11 wasn’t his first choice but was given it anyway. “It’ll work fine. It’s not my favourite number, but it will be.
“I had 11 growing up playing soccer. I think it’s more a soccer number. But it’s my mom’s favourite number, so it works.”
The 21-year-old Swedish centre is excited to start the season with the Calgary Flames out of camp for the first time, but he’s not too comfortable yet.
He’s not sure it means he’s arrived as an official league rookie.
“I don’t have my own place yet,” Backlund said with a laugh. “When they tell me to start looking for a place, I’ll be more comfortable.”
Frankenstein would be a fitting nickname for blueliner Adam Pardy at the moment.
A run of stitches on the bridge of his nose near his left eye are evidence of something frightening that happened to him last week during a pre-season game at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
He took a stick in the eye courtesy of Oilers newcomer Colin Fraser and left the game bloodied in the first period.
“It was very scary,” Pardy said Wednesday before flying back up to Edmonton for Thursday’s season-opener.
“I felt the blade hit the eye, and right away, I knew there was something wrong. A bit of a scary moment.
“Even overnight, I woke up the next day and couldn’t get my eye open.”
Now Pardy returns to the scene of the crime cleared to play.
“It’s just a scratched cornea,” he said. “It sounds bad, but they heal pretty quick, and I’m good to go now.”
Certified player agent Ritch Winter was down in Calgary Wednesday watching practice at the Saddledome, which got the Twitter world tweeting over the idea he was in town to talk contract for client Mark Giordano, who is in the final year of his current deal with the Flames.
Winter said he was in town for an uncle’s 80th birthday party.
Flames head coach Brent Sutter suggests his charges need to contain their energy against a host team that will no doubt be extremely anxious to get things going Thursday up in Edmonton.
“We want to have a good start to the season,” said Sutter, of nearby Viking, Alta.
We’ve got to play well,” Sutter added.
“We’re going to Edmonton — we know they’ll be fired up and revved up, and we just gotta go play our game and play with the emotions we have to play with and make sure they’re controlled, and we’ll be fine.”