Bullseye on Hagman's chest?

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:43 PM ET

CALGARY - When former Maple Leaf Niklas Hagman looks down at the crest on his chest Thursday night, the Calgary Flames logo might not be the only thing he sees.

There might be a bulls-eye there as well, one that ex-Flame Dion Phaneuf could be aiming for, given the past history between the two players.

The way he plays, it could be a possibility, Hagman acknowledged Wednesday. I faced him enough times when I was in Dallas over the years and it seemed I was kind of a target for him there.

With locals here referring to the return of Phaneuf to the Saddledome as Dion-palooza, it also will be the opportunity for Hagman and fellow ex-Leaf Matt Stajan to face their former team for the first time since being shipped to Calgary on Jan. 31.

Phaneuf, forward Fredrik Sjostrom and defenceman Keith Aulie were sent to Toronto in exchange for Hagman, Stajan, Ian White and Jamal Mayers during that blockbuster almost 11 months ago.

While White (Carolina Hurricanes) and Mayers (San Jose Sharks) have moved on, Hagman and Stajan are looking forward to taking the ice against Toronto.

In Stajans case, hes just happy to be out of coach Brent Sutters doghouse, as temporary as that might be.

Coming off two consecutive games in which he was a healthy scratch, Stajan said he was told by Sutter that he would be in the lineup when his Flames meet the Leafs.

The most important thing for me is to get back into the position to help this team, to get back where I should be, Stajan said.

Its never something you expect. Its frustrating as a player. You want to play, you want to be out there helping your team.

Obviously, its the coachs decision. Its not something you want to happen on a regular basis, thats for sure.

With one goal in his past 43 games, Stajan might find himself back on a line with Jarome Iginla, an opportunity he had best not let slip away.

Sutter pulled no punches when discussing Stajans situation.

There are two reasons you take someone out of the lineup either hes not playing to his potential or there is a need to slash numbers. It wasnt the latter, Sutter said.

I expect him to come back and play the way we expect them to play.

Asked which team won the trade, both Hagman and Stajan understandably declined to pick a side.

Dions a defenceman, Im a forward. Were playing against each others teams, not each other, Hagman said.

Added Stajan: Im not getting into that. Thats the type of thing you guys get paid to do.

If thats the case, then, OK, as part of the media, the pick here is the Leafs.

Phaneuf is the captain and, while there are noticeable warts in his game, he has a huge upside. So, too, does Aulie, a raw talent who continues to refine his game. And Sjostrom is a serviceable third liner and penalty killer.

On the Flames side, White and Mayers are gone, Stajan is up and down like a roller coaster and Hagman sports a team-worst minus-7.

Advantage: Leafs.


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