SUN Hockey Pool

Flames arrive giddy for new season

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:07 AM ET

CALGARY - School is back in session.

Most members of the veteran-laden Calgary Flames can hardly remember their last class, but with fitness testing officially kicking off training camp Friday at the Saddledome, the feeling of butterflies in the stomach brings them back to their younger years.

“Getting back into it … there’s a little bit of nerves,” said Flames defenceman Mark Giordano. “You want to see where you’re at, where your fitness level is at after all your hard work in the summer.

“Usually, coming in I feel anxious. I want to get through a few tests and see how they go and go from there.”

On-ice training begins Saturday, with the Flames splitting into three groups while merging the prospects with the vets. And nerves about where they stack up in the fitness department turn to excitement about the start of a new NHL season.

“We’re anxious to get going,” said Flames winger Alex Tanguay. “It almost feels like the first day of school. The first day of school, you don’t really do too much — you get to meet everybody. But then the second day, you start going a little bit. You feel better.

“This is a new year — we all start at ground zero, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Despite missing the playoffs for a second straight season, there’s plenty of optimism in the locker-room right now.

Much of that has to do with the way they played after Christmas and the fact they finished in the league’s top 10 in team scoring while knowing if they stuck to their system, they would get more positive results.

“There’s no losses on the scoresheet, and you think you’re going to win every one going forward. That’s the best part about it,” said rearguard Cory Sarich. “It’s a fresh start every year, and it’s exciting.

“There were a lot of great things that happened from Christmas on.”

Their start last season, however, was too poor to overcome. That will be a big focus coming out of the gate this year when the puck drops on their regular-season Oct. 8 at the Dome.

“It just has to be dedication right now — you have to be on your details,” Sarich said. “You’ve got to be playing your systems, be dedicated to your systems and trust they’ll get you results.”

Veteran forward Brendan Morrison likes what he sees on paper with many of the same guys returning, plus a few additions to add to a deep group offensively.

“I really like the depth we have up front,” said the 36-year-old Morrison, who signed up for a second season with the Flames this summer. “I think that we can put together three real good offensive lines. And we have a great fourth line that kind of knows their role but — as we know here in Calgary — actually carried this team at times offensively last year.”

The defence saw the departure of Robyn Regehr, but they got blueline prospect Chris Butler back in the deal with the Buffalo Sabres.

“It’s unfortunate we lost Reggie — he’s been kind of a mainstay here for years — but it gives the opportunity for some other guys,” said Morrison, whose positivity ahead of the new year is shared by all his teammates.

“It’s a fresh start. Doesn’t matter who you are or how things went last year — we’re back to square one,” said blueliner Jay Bouwmeester. “It’s been a long summer, too. You’re getting back to doing something you enjoy doing. It’s always a fun time of year.”

“It’s great to get started,” added captain Jarome Iginla. “It’s great to be back and have this day done with and be ready for the ice.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane


Videos

Photos