|Flames forward Alex Tanguay, who's netting nearly a point per game this season, is coming at a bargain price of $1.7 million. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)
For all the flack Flames GM Darryl Sutter is taking these days, he got one thing right this summer.
Bringing back Alex Tanguay.
The former $5.25-million man is a bargain at $1.7M this season with nearly a point per game.
To be fair, after a 10-goal, 37-point season with the Tampa Bay Lightning last year, the market for Tanguay’s services wasn’t what it used to be.
“I’ve very thankful for (Sutter) wanting to bring me back here. I know they were maybe trying last year, late, to do the same thing,” Tanguay said. “Darryl’s always been very honest with me, he’s always been very fair. For the people that don’t know him, that’s how he is. He told me what he expected of me, what he wanted me to do.
“He gave me lots of confidence.”
That was lacking last season.
Jarome Iginla could tell when they talked or texted.
“Playing against him last year, I still kept in contact with him. He’s a friend of mine from playing together before,” said the Flames captain. “You could just see (he was unhappy).”
With the Bolts visiting the Saddledome Tuesday, Tanguay will see his former teammates for the first time. What they’ll see is a man with a very different energy than the one they played with.
“It’s certainly day and night,” said Tanguay, who hasn’t kept in touch with his Lightning teammates the way he did with some Flames.
“I wasn’t there very long, and I was pretty miserable for the latter part of the year.”
It got to the point the just-turned 31-year-old started doubting himself.
“Over the course of last year, certainly there was doubts at times. There were questions,” Tanguay said. “Last year was a really difficult year on many levels in Tampa. I’ve said it before, I wish I could re-start that year. I’d probably do things differently.
“But I don’t want to dwell on what happened. I’m very happy for the guys that are in Tampa. I think they’ve got a great organization, a great coaching staff, and they seem like they’re having a lot of fun.
“After the season, I realized how much I enjoy hockey and I worked extremely hard this summer to get myself ready to be able to be in a position to help the team.
“I still feel I’ve got more. I know I’ve got a little bit more.”
Just like his general manager, Iginla didn’t hesitate to declare his desire to bring Tanguay back to Calgary.
“People have off years or get in situations where they’re not as comfortable or things just don’t go their way,” Iginla said of Tanguay’s struggles on the Gulf Coast. “But when you’re as talented as he is, I don’t think anybody on our team doubted him.”
Maybe it’s loyalty, but Tanguay’s belief that Sutter has put together a team capable of winning has not wavered all year.
“I’ve told you guys all along I think he’s assembled a pretty good team. We’ve just got to get results on the ice,” Tanguay said.
“That’s basically out of his control. If you look at our team on paper, I think we can play with most teams in this league and we should be a playoff team.”