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Staios moved to forefront

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

ATLANTA — Steve Staios has suited up as a forward before, although he wasn’t as eager to do it then.

Returning to the Calgary Flames lineup Thursday night in a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers, the veteran defenceman didn’t care where he played. Not after weeks of painful rehabilitation for shoulder and rib injuries.

“I’m excited to be back in,” said Staios, who played just over four minutes on the wing with Mikael Backlund and Tom Kostopoulos, getting in a couple of hits and doing a good job of being in the right position defensively. “It’s always been about the team first for me.”

His fate for Saturday at the Saddledome with the Los Angeles Kings in town is still uncertain.

Winger Lance Bouma was summoned from the AHL Thursday and will join the team Friday in Calgary.

With his addition and Staios coming off injured reserve, something was worked out with Craig Conroy to remove him from the active roster.

Either Conroy has quietly been assigned to the Abbotsford Heat pending the announcement of his retirement or he’s already filed the papers. An announcement could come as early as Friday.

Meanwhile, Staios enjoyed his return to action even though he had just six shifts.

“This has been the worst injury I’ve dealt with since maybe my first year pro,” said Staios, who hadn’t played since Dec. 5 against the Blackhawks in Chicago, where he separated his shoulder and cracked his ribs.

It’s been even longer since he was used as a forward.

Aside from a brief emergency stint as a member of the original Thrashers roster, he has to go back to the 1997-98 NHL season as a freshman with the Vancouver Canucks.

“Mike Keenan was my coach. I was playing back and forth on forward and defence,” Staios said.

“I was a young defenceman, playing in the top four and playing a lot of minutes. When Mike got there, he liked his defencemen about four inches taller than me and 20 lb. heavier.”


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