Kotalik positive influence
IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
When Ales Kotalik cleared NHL waivers and was sent to the AHL, clearly it wasn’t 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.
“It’s different. For a veteran guy like me, it’s not the way you want your career to go,” said Kotalik.
“I was offering some solutions and they didn’t 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, I’m 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 doesn’t have salary-cap implications, Kotalik would have to clear waivers again, which likely wouldn’t 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 can’t say a bad word about what Kots has brought to the group,” Playfair said. “He’s 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.”