Second helping of Noodles

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Immediately after jotting his name on the deal, Jamie McLennan wanted to return to Calgary.

That's how thrilled the goaltender was to be returning to the Flames.

He wanted to move his gear back into the dressing room. He wanted to renew acquaintances with old friends.

He wanted to drop the puck.

"I was gonna drive to Calgary the second I signed the deal to shake hands and get all fired up. But I figured I'd cool down a bit," he said with a laugh from his home in Edmonton.

Still, even knowing he must wait, McLennan couldn't contain his elation over returning to the Flames after signing a one-year, $575,000 US contract yesterday.

"I'm so excited. I can't even explain the emotions from coming back. It's a great feeling," said McLennan, let go by Florida. "I believe this team is on the verge of doing something special and to have a chance to be a part of it is really special after missing out on what I missed before.

"And, to be in (my hometown of) Edmonton and see what they were going through -- I went to a bunch of games -- makes you hungry and makes you want to be a part of it.

"It was a slam dunk on my side, for sure. It's a nice fit, it's comfortable, Calgary's a place that's entrenched in my heart. It'll be an easy transition to come back."

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter has all but completed his roster -- imagine that, a couple of days before Stampede -- by signing McLennan to serve as back-up to Miikka Kiprusoff. With only restricted free-agent forward Matthew Lombardi left to sign, he's pretty much filled the NHL roster for the coming season.

A season McLennan hopes can make up for what he missed out on in the spring of 2004.

It was only a month before the post-season began when he was shipped to the New York Rangers in the deal that brought Chris Simon to Calgary.

Though gone, the always affable McLennan was certainly not forgotten, not only because he's so well loved in the room but also for his yeoman's performance while the Flames were without Kiprusoff and Roman Turek due to injuries for a month.

McLennan played a flurry of games despite a fractured sternum, a performance Sutter has often said ensured they were a playoff team.

"The biggest thing was contributing," recalled McLennan, who played parts of 17 games in Florida last season, posting a 2-4-2 record to go with a 3.01 goals against average and .906 save percentage. "As a back-up goalie, you have to contribute in so many different ways, I believe.

"And then if you do get a chance to play, you have to contribute. That's what I'm hoping to bring back."

And no, there's no bitterness over missing out on the run to the Stanley Cup final.

"I took so much pride in knowing I was a part of that team and how much success they had," he said. "There wasn't a jealous feeling. It was pride and excitement, wishing I could be there. The biggest feeling was the pride in how well they did."

Besides, McLennan points out, he left Calgary better for his experience, too.

"Working with (goalie coach) David Marcoux at 31-32 years old made me a better goaltender. He helped adjust my game. It's not my work ethic wasn't there, it was what to do with it," he said. "And then there was Darryl's mindset: 'I don't care if you're a back-up, you're there to win games.' The biggest thing I respect and learned is from Darryl not pulling punches, saying, 'We need more from you.' That mindset, when it gets entrenched in you, makes you demand more from yourself. Darryl is great at instilling that into a person as a player."

And now, McLennan hopes to get the chance he missed out on in 2004 and witnessed in his hometown this spring.

"That would be great. I'm gonna take is slow but Darryl's assembled the pieces of a real good team that can achieve some good things. That's what I want to be a part of."


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