Butler's numbers talk of trade
STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
|Flames defenceman Chris Butler tangles with Oilers forward Magnus Paajarvi Sunday night at the Saddledome in Calgary, Alta. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - The only numbers that really matter for Calgary Flames newcomer Chris Butler are the ones he puts up for the team this NHL season.
Ones like points — his own and the ones the team earns for victories.
But when the former Buffalo Sabres blueliner arrived in Calgary, he had a feeling something just wasn’t right with the number he was assigned.
Skating informally with his new teammates at the Westside Recreation Centre last month, there was a 28 decorating the back of his helmet courtesy of equipment manager Mark DePasquale.
“When I got into town and had a chance to talk to DePo (DePasquale) about numbers, the only things that were really open were 28 and 19,” explained Butler, who was dealt to the Flames in the Robyn Regehr trade on the weekend of the NHL Entry Draft. “He gave me 28 right away because 19 is not really a d-man number.”
By the time training camp opened, Butler was sporting Stefan Meyer’s No. 44, with Meyer making the switch to 19.
“I felt it probably wouldn’t be right for me to wear Reggie’s number, just because of what he meant to the team and to this city for such a long time,” Butler said.
“Not that I felt I would disrespect it or anything, but
I felt it was kind of his number and maybe leave it that way for a little while so people can remember it that way.”
Expected to start the season alongside Jay Bouwmeester on the Flames blueline, there’s a lot to like about Butler, who so far appears to be a solid presence with a bright future.
But the American product is smart enough to realize the kind of talk that could come with wearing the number of a veteran franchise cornerstone for whome he was directly traded.
“They may have (made comparisons),” said Butler, a native of St. Louis. “It may have been a little too much right off the bat.
“I’ve always liked wearing numbers with a four in it somewhere. Stef was nice enough to let me wear 44. He didn’t have any ties to it.
“It kind of worked out better for both of us.”
For Meyer, making the switch was a no-brainer.
“For him, I’m sure he would have worn it no problem,” said Meyer, who played 16 games with the Flames early last season wearing 44.
“I just kind of realized what was going on, and I talked with the trainers, and we figured that not only is it a number he wanted, also he was slated to put on Robyn’s number. As an organizational teammate, I felt like it was my duty.
“I played quite a few games last year with the club, but that number really had more of a significant value to him than it did to me. I let him have it.
“It’s just a respectful thing to do.”
Meyer, who was reassigned Monday to the AHL Abbotsford Heat, will have to wait for a call-up to debut with the Flames in No. 19, but he’s hopeful he’ll get the opportunity.
“I know I can play in the NHL. I think I proved it last year,” added the native of Fox Valley, Sask. “My job is just to make sure that I work hard, and when the time comes to make sure I show them what I can do again.”
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane