January 24, 2013
Flames Hudler returns after death of his father

Jiri Hudler's locker sat empty at the Saddledome to start the season. But he expects to be back Saturday. Photo by Lyle Aspinall/Calgary Sun.

Jiri Hudler’s eyes told the tale.

The Calgary Flames winger is still trying to come to grips with the death of his father early last week.

But Hudler was back with his Flames family Thursday, skating at the Saddledome for the first time since his dad died at the age of 50 and was gearing up for the season, with the hopes of playing in Saturday’s clash with the Edmonton Oilers.

“It’s been tough,” Hudler said with a brave face. “But I’m happy I’m back and being around the guys and starting Saturday.

“I’m excited.”

Hudler buried his father, Jiri. Sr., last Friday in Czech Republic. An only child, he had to deal with the legalities before returning to Calgary, which he did Wednesday evening.

The next step will be to play games, and hopefully it can help the healing process.