PENTICTON, B.C. - Hate is such a strong word.
Certainly too strong for Sven Baertschi to use to describe his feelings toward the Edmonton Oilers.
ďI donít hate anybody and donít hate any team, but I want to win,Ē said the Calgary Flames 2011 NHL Entry Draftís first-round choice. ďWinning is what matters. In the business of hockey, you want to win every game.
ďI donít care whoís on the other side ó I just want win every game.Ē
Whether Baertschi is in the lineup remains to be seen, but Wednesday is his first chance to be part of the Battle of Alberta when the Flames and the Oilers square off at the Young Stars Prospects Tournament in Penticton, B.C.
ďThatís something special,Ē Baertschi said. ďThe coaches said they donít want to lose, especially against those guys ó Edmonton, Vancouver, the Canadian teams Ö I felt that right away. Thereís a big rivalry against Edmonton.
ďIím not sure if Iím playing, but if I am, Iíll be going hard.Ē
For the second straight year, the Oilers arrived for this event boasting the first overall draft choice from the most recent draft.
A year ago, it was Taylor Hall.
This season, itís Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Hall didnít play the game against the Flames last season, and seeing as Nugent-Hopkins suited up for the first two Oilers tilts at this event, itís likely he wonít skate against the Flames.
But there are Flames players whoíd like to go up against the Red Deer Rebels star, especially WHL junior teammate Turner Elson.
ďI always watched the Battle of Alberta, so it would be exciting if I could play against the Oilers,Ē said Elson, who hails from St. Albert. ďI want to play (Nugent-Hopkins) because Iím hoping I can get in his grill. I know how to get under his skin.Ē
Knowledge of how to rattle Nugent-Hopkins could be valuable information to the Flames, seeing as how the highly touted centre could be a cornerstone player for their rivals for years.
However, Elson knows heís treading dangerous ground, since they could both end up back with the Rebels again this season.
ďI wouldnít want to hurt him because Iíd be out of Red Deer real quick,Ē Elson said. ďIíll try to do what I do best, and thatís get under the skin of first-liners. I know Iím a pest ó thatís what I have to do. Iíll probably pass information on to the Flames guys. Itís a little bit easy to get under (Nugent-Hopkinsí) skin.Ē
Itís possible neither teamís first-rounder will take to the ice Wednesday. If they do, it could make for interesting viewing. Baertschi and Nugent-Hopkins met once last season in a regular-season clash which saw Baertschi and the Portland Winterhawks win 4-3 in overtime. Baertschi scored the game-tying goal late in the third period.
ďThe first-overall pick ó thatís special,Ē Baertschi said. ďHeís a really good player. If I go on the ice and see Hopkins out there, I donít really care. Itís the team that matters. We want to beat them, not just Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.Ē
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak