SUN Hockey Pool

Getting back into lineup thrill for Flames blueliner

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Steve Staios blew 37 candles off the cake when he celebrated his birthday in July.

That age and experience didn’t prevent him from feeling a bit like a rookie prior to Thursday night’s Calgary Flames game against the Florida Panthers, when he made his season debut.

“I’m looking forward getting into the game,” Staios said after receiving the tap from head coach Brent Sutter. “I’m excited.”

Fortunately for Staios, he has the experience which has come from playing nearly 900 NHL regular-season games over his career.

Staios, who was scratched in the first two games, will replace Adam Pardy, who is out due to a dislocated shoulder. He was paired with rookie T.J. Brodie, while fellow blueliner Cory Sarich was the lone healthy scratch for the Flames.

Staios sad he survived the disappointment of the opening week by maintaining his composure.

“You can’t accept the situation, but at the same time, you’re part of a team and being part of a team means you need more than just the guys who are playing,” he said. “I’ve seen guys go through this, and I’ve seen guys handle it the right way and I’ve seen guys handle it the wrong way. For me, there’s only one way to handle this situation, and that’s to be myself and enjoy coming to the rink and pushing myself and pushing my teammates.

“I’m positive there’s going to be better days for me ahead.”

Staios joined the Flames in a somewhat controversial trade by GM Darryl Sutter at last year’s deadline. Sutter has said he wants a younger and quicker team, yet dealt away young forward Dustin Boyd to the Nashville Predators for a fourth-round draft choice and flipped a third-round and defenceman Aaron Johnson to the Edmonton for Staios.

Staios comes with a salary hit of US$2.7 million — although his contract this season is worth $2.2 million — which made the fact he was scratched two games a curious turn of events. He did his best to reward the Flames by arriving at training camp in fantastic physical shape and figured the days of being a healthy scratch was in the rear-view mirror.

“Definitely unexpected for me,” he said. “I felt I came in and had a good camp. At the same time, it’s been difficult. I haven’t been in this situation for a very, very long time.

“Mentally, you just have to prepare yourself every day. I know what I need to do to be successful and know how I need to play to help my team. It’s a matter of getting in there and getting back into the rhythm of playing games again.”

Staios wasn’t the only Flames player making his regular-season debut.

As expected, centre Matt Stajan returned from the separated shoulder suffered in the pre-season, and was pegged to play on a line with Niklas Hagman and Brendan Morrison.

The loss of winger Rene Bourque due to a head injury suffered last game made Stajan’s timing perfect.

“I’ve played all of two or three minutes of hockey this year, so I’m itching to get back,” Stajan said. “You get those nerves and excitement that help you play well. Our team wants to get off to some good home wins to finish this week off, and I want to play.”


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