SUN Hockey Pool

Kotalik positive influence

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:44 PM ET

When Ales Kotalik cleared NHL waivers and was sent to the AHL, clearly it wasnt the place he wanted to go.

In returning to the Saddledome Thursday for the first time since his demotion Jan. 28, the 31-year-old Czech said he was asking for a different destination before the Flames sent him to the Abbotsford Heat.

Although he refused to elaborate, the obvious solution would be finding a place in Europe where Kotalik could play out the year and half remaining on his $3-million a year deal.

Instead, a disappointed Kotalik is back in the minors, playing with kids 10 years younger and trying to be a good teammate. He will suit up Friday night as the Heat play the Oklahoma City Barons at the Dome.

Its different. For a veteran guy like me, its not the way you want your career to go, said Kotalik.

I was offering some solutions and they didnt take them. They would have rather kept me here. All I can control is focus on playing and see what happens until the trade deadline.

If nothing happens, Im going to be happy to stay around these guys and try to help them as much as I can. Maybe I can come back and help in the playoff run.

In the off-chance the Flames want Kotalik back for the playoffs, where his hefty contract doesnt have salary-cap implications, Kotalik would have to clear waivers again, which likely wouldnt be a problem.

Although Kotalik has been a disappointment with the Flames, scoring three goals in 20 games, the winger has six assists in seven AHL games.

Head coach Jim Playfair said Kotalik has been a positive influence in the locker-room.

I cant say a bad word about what Kots has brought to the group, Playfair said. Hes been positive and reinforcing about all the little details that we hold to be true.

I talked with him about how we want our players to develop. He reinforces that on the bench and in the dressing room.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


Videos

Photos