December 28, 2011
Comeau calm about return to Long Island
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
But the New York Islanders castoff isn't about to make Thursday night's game against his former team about anything but a victory for his Calgary Flames (5 p.m., Sportsnet Flames, Sportsnet 960).
"It's far from being about me versus the Islanders or anything like that," Comeau said ahead of his NHL homecoming, his first trip back to Long Island since being waived by the team on American Thanksgiving after falling out of favour with the organization.
"When you get put on waivers, it's a humbling experience. I feel like there's a little extra motivation for myself when we go back to Long Island to maybe show some people there that I have a lot to offer and can play in this league.
"I'm sure there's gonna be a few butterflies, but that happens before a lot of games. Anytime the puck drops, those are usually out the door." It would be understandable if the butterflies last a little longer Thursday.
The Isles picked up Comeau in the second round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The Meadow Lake, Sask., product spent parts of six seasons in New York.
With a breakout 24-goal campaign last year, his future there appeared bright — certainly stable. But settling with Isles GM Garth Snow on a one-year deal worth US$2.5 million this summer the day before his arbitration hearing, Comeau questioned his future on Long Island for the first time.
"It was only a one-year contract — I was a little disappointed. I felt like I had made big strides the year before and was excited about that," Comeau said. "They were pretty adamant of just signing me to a one-year deal. I kind of felt like maybe that was a sign of things to come with Garth really only wanting to negotiate for a one-year (pact)."
Just three games into this season, Comeau found himself a healthy scratch in the press box without explanation from head coach Jack Capuano, his former AHL bench boss who took over the NHL team in mid-November last season for a fired Scott Gordon.
"I think last year, I knew where I stood with Scott Gordon, when he was there. When Jack took over, he had a little bit of a different approach," said Comeau, who still managed to score 21 of his 24 goals under Capuano's guidance.
"It was moreso the start of this year. I was in the stands, a healthy scratch after two games coming off of a season where I was happy and wanted to build off of it. It didn't seem there was really any reason that they could say why I was in the stands.
"I wasn't quite sure what my role was. I wasn't sure if there was even room for me to have a role on the team the way things were going." Turns out there wasn't. The team waived Comeau after 16 games. He was without a point and had a minus-11 rating. With the Flames, he has a pair of goals and five points to go with a minus-1 rating through 17 games.
"It's weird how everything seems to work out in the end. Obviously, I was struggling a bit there at the start of the season — in and out of the lineup, ice time went down a lot …" Comeau said. "Here, I end up in Calgary before Christmas time, where my parents live. The coaching staff has shown a lot of confidence in me. As a player, that allows you to play with more confidence, as well.
"I guess the biggest thing for me is that I'm somewhere that I feel there's that sense of belonging for me. Yeah, we are hockey players, but we're humans, as well. The communication here is a bit better. I know where I stand, and I know what I need to do to play well and what my role is. "That's all I can ask for." email@example.com
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