Kotalik nears return to Flames lineup

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:00 PM ET

Later this week, Calgary Flames fans may finally see the player who had them pumped in the NHL pre-season.

Ales Kotalik is set to take part in his first real practices starting Tuesday that after joining the team on their recent road trip for morning skate sessions and again twirling with his teammates Monday before the game against the Minnesota Wild.

Kotalik was one of the most talked about Flames forwards during the exhibition schedule. After an uncertain summer during which some thought he may be bought out by the team, he racked up three goals and a pair of assists along with a game-winning shootout marker in four pre-season contests before taking a big blow to his left knee in the finale in Edmonton.

Its the most severe injury Ive suffered in my career. I did damage in two ligaments, not just one. Its not an easy thing to come back from, Kotalik said. I worked extremely hard with rehab, and I committed and put the work in to come back as strong as I have been.

Now its about finding that comfort level I had in training camp. I felt so great. Thats basically the only acceptable way for me, to come back and be a factor and be a helping force out there. Thats the way I approach it.

Kotalik is hoping to get the call from coaches as early as Friday in Minnesota in a rematch with the Wild.

Hopefully, I can give the team a different look and be a spark and be helpful, Kotalik added.

Iggy claims ball trophy

Another award found its way Monday to Jarome Iginla.

A baseball player bobblehead was proudly on display as he chatted with the meda after the morning skate.

It just came in today, said the Flames captain. Thats baseball pool 2010 league champion. Got lucky at the end, but a lot goes into that. It came in this morning, so I had to display it.

It was delivered by pool commissioner and former Flames equipment manager Gus Thorson.

Euro trio hits ice

A new line was formed Monday, with head coach Brent Sutter unveiling a European trio in Niklas Hagman, Mikael Backlund and Olli Jokinen.

Backlund, a Swede, played between the two Finns, with Jokinen, normally a centre, out of position on right wing.

I think Hags and Olli are good when theyre together. For Olli, it seems to be something that fits, Sutter said. Backs needs to play centre, so Olli will stay on the wing.

As long as we can still use his speed, we should be OK.

Ice chips

D Adam Pardys shoulder still hasnt been cleared for contact, but hes practising with the team ... LW Raitis Ivanans made the trip east but suffered a setback while skating in Detroit and flew back to Calgary. Ivanans suffered a concussion in the third period of the season-opener during a bout with Oilers heavyweight Steve MacIntyre.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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