CALGARY - Sven Baertschi’s key short-term plans are to go for his driver’s licence test Friday in Portland and return to his home Monday in Switzerland.
There, the Calgary Flames’ top prospect will have a chance to contact some people and get the 411 on the club’s newest head coach, since Bob Hartley made quite a name for himself during his one-year stint with the Zurich Lions, coaching them to the championship in the country’s top league this past season.
“I heard the name a couple of times at home, and all I heard was good things about him,” Baertschi said. “You always read about him. A lot of people said he was a great coach in Zurich.
“I was watching the playoffs at home — some of the people at home told me that Zurich is doing very well — so I looked it up. They won the championship, and I was really surprised because Zurich had a really young team. They were more the underdogs in the final. I was very surprised they won the championship.”
Maybe someday that coach and the talented prospect from Switzerland will celebrate a championship together.
That’s a long-term goal for both Hartley and Baertschi, the club’s 2011 first-round draft choice who created a big sensation in the city by scoring three times in a five-game NHL stint.
Well before winning any titles, though, the pair will have to get to know each other.
As much as Hartley will want to meet and talk with the veterans on the Flames team, he’ll also be looking forward to greeting the club’s top prospect, who is pencilled to make the jump to the NHL next season.
Baertschi said he wants to be careful to not find out too much about Hartley.
“I like surprises, too. It’s always fun when you meet new people and you don’t know what to expect,” Baertschi said. “The things I’ve heard about him — it’s all good stuff, so I’m happy about that so far.”
Hartley has a reputation for being tough on youngsters, but plenty of them have gone on to become impact players.
Baertschi wants to join that list, even it means he’ll face the coach’s wrath.
“I’m a guy that wants to make sure when a coach gives me crap — I want to make sure
I do it the right way the next time when I get the chance,” said Baertschi, who tore up the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks this past season. “All you can do is listen and learn. If you screw up the first time, don’t screw up the second time, right? I had a couple of coaches like that before, and it does help you. It does give you an extra push when someone is extra hard on you like that.”
Hartley is a proponent of an in-your-face game, with a strong forecheck and plenty of skating.
Bring it on, said Baertschi, who’ll turn 20 in October.
“I like a tempo game. You want to make it as tough as possible. If you have a lot of speed in a game and you have a lot of hits in a game, too, it’s always the hard part for the opposing team,” Baertschi added. “I like it with speed. It was in Portland exactly the same for me. Our practices were high speed and then bring it into the game.”
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