CALGARY - His agent gave him the news over the phone as Roman Horak rested on his bed back home in the Czech Republic.
Horak was on the move from the New York Rangers to the Calgary Flames in the Tim Erixon deal.
“The only thing I knew about Calgary is Ryan Howse is here. That’s all,” Horak said of his Chilliwack Bruins linemate who’s also a prospect with the Flames. “He was excited.
“I was excited, too. It’s nice to have someone you know. He was my linemate for two years.”
A Facebook message from his WHL friend came through a couple of hours later.
While Horak was still a little surprised to learn he’d be leaving the franchise that drafted him in the fifth round in 2009, Howse was anticipating the possibility of keeping alive the partnership that produced a 51-goal season last year, with setup man Horak earning 52 assists amid a 78-point campaign.
“He can finish, too, but I have to credit him for about half my goals or even probably over half my goals this year,” Howse said Thursday at the Flames development camp at the Don Hartman Northeast Sportsplex. “It’s pretty neat. Building chemistry with him for two years, playing every single shift with him and every practice, and now we get to do it again here ... I’m looking forward to it.”
Both were billeted in Chilliwack, and the prospect of turning pro with the Abbotsford Heat in the fall means they’ll be fending for themselves.
It’s possible they’ll team up on and off the ice if they decide to room together.
“I don’t know yet. I still have to ask him if he can cook,” Horak joked.
“That might be a reason.”
Howse, apparently, is pretty proficient with the pots and pans.
“One thing, straight up, I’ll give myself the better cook,” Howse said with a laugh.
“I’m going to have to pick up a barbecue here soon, too.
“I’m not a big cleaner.”
Interestingly enough, Horak is the product of Flames GM Jay Feaster cleaning up a mess in Calgary.
Erixon, their top pick in 2009, refused to sign with the Flames, so Feaster was forced to try and trade his rights at the 11th hour.
He managed to squeeze a couple of second-round picks and Horak in return for Erixon and a fifth-round pick.
“It (news) got to me what happened here,” Horak said of the Erixon situation.
“He didn’t want to sign.
“That’s not my problem. I’m happy to be here. And he can be happy in New York.”
Admittedly, Horak was surprised at hearing from his agent that night.
Not being a highly-touted prospect, the idea of being traded hadn’t crossed his mind.
“At the beginning, I just didn’t know what to think. Now, I’m happy to be here,” he said.
“I was surprised. It was just a new challenge. It wasn’t bad or anything. I’m looking forward to trying something new again.”