VANCOUVER — Niklas Hagman’s disappointment couldn’t be missed.
After nearly all of the rest of the Calgary Flames had cleared out of the dressing room following the morning skate, Hagman finally made his way off the ice, walked to his stall and sat down.
The situation was obvious to all: He was a healthy scratch for Wednesday night’s clash with the Vancouver Canucks.
“Obviously, it’s tough. I’d rather play, but I’m not playing today,” the left winger said quietly.
The Flames had no shortage of candidates to spend a night in the press box after their four-game winning streak was snapped in Monday night’s 5-2 home-ice loss to the New York Islanders.
It prompted the squad to summon rookie Mikael Backlund back from the minors — two days after he was assigned there — meaning somebody would join Craig Conroy as a scratch.
Even during the winning streak, a handful of players struggled, and head coach Brent Sutter opted to sit Hagman, who hasn’t scored in eight games and has just one tally in 15 outings.
“I haven’t scored, haven’t put up any points, and obviously they expect that from me. I expect that from me, also,” he said. “You could say it’s frustrating.”
Hagman, a three-time 20-goal scorer, has eight goals and 17 points in 40 games. His minus-7 rating is second worst on the team.
However, he’s not that far removed from being sat out.
“Toronto. Last season,” said Hagman.
“It’s not fun. In Toronto, we were going through a tough stretch and trying to get things going better ... (Here) we’ve got 14 forwards so everybody can’t play. I want to be one of the guys who’s playing, but tonight I’m not.”
Getting back into the fray, and happy about it, was Mikael Backlund.
Backlund was sent to the AHL Abbotsford Heat Sunday after being sat six straight games, but his time in the press box was more a case of Sutter not wanting to tinker with a winning lineup.
Originally, the plan was to send Backlund to Abbotsford for a week because the Heat were slated to play four games in six nights, but Backlund suited up for only one game, a 4-0 loss to the Manitoba Moose Monday night.
“It sucks we lost, but it was fun to play. Play a lot,” he said.
Minor league forward J.D. Watt had his contract with the Flames terminated Wednesday, two days after saying he wanted to pursue his career outside the organization.