When in Rome...

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:08 PM ET


 VANCOUVER -- For so long, he was one of the gang.

 A big reason for the Calgary Flames' success and turnaround.

 Now, Jamie McLennan is like all the others monitoring the club's fortunes.

 Well, except for the fact he kept up with last night's Game 7 victory from a time zone nine hours ahead of Vancouver.

 "Don't worry, I'll be following," said the former Flames netminder before the game, while on a holiday in Rome, Italy.

 "I'll be listening to it on the Internet. With the time change, I'm pretty much up in the middle of the night anyway."

 McLennan is gone but not forgotten.

 One of the most popular players among his teammates, the backup netminder -- traded to the New York Rangers at the deadline in the deal that brought Chris Simon to Calgary -- won't sever his ties with the Flames. Especially now with so many friends having just won their first playoff series.

 "I'm back this week so I told the guys I'll see them for the second round," he said.

 The man affectionately known as Noodles may no longer be with the Flames but his legacy lives on. His boisterous laugh, constant pranks and ability to find humour in almost any situation makes him a fast friend with nearly everybody.

 And that's before taking into consideration what he did for the Flames this season on the ice.

 First, he kept the team in the hunt through mid-November after Roman Turek went down with a knee injury.

 Then McLennan came through again, earning victories while Miikka Kiprusoff was convalescing from his knee injury.

 And he did it with a cracked sternum.

 When he was dealt, McLennan was crushed.

 There were heavy hearts all around when McLennan and his teammates said goodbye.

 "It's part of the game and you accept it but you certainly want to see the guys have success. You feel a part of it and that you contributed," he said. "Now I sit back and watch them as a fan."

 Except he chats in some way, shape or form with somebody on the team nearly on a daily basis.

 "I've got text messaging, so I talk to everyone pretty much every day. I'm still really tight with all the boys so I hear from them," he said.

 "The guys are telling me the city is on fire and it's really amazing."

 Naturally, he was just as disappointed as his friends about the

 Game 6 result, especially after finding out how his former teammates erased a four-goal deficit before losing in triple OT.

 "With the time change, it ended when I was waking up. I heard about it and wanted to know more about the game. It sounded wild," he said.

 "I really felt they were going to do it in Game 6. It seemed like there was destiny there.

 "I have faith in the guys because I know what they're capable of and they know what they're capable of."

 That's why he was confident they'd come through when asked for his prediction on last night's showdown.

 "They've been through so many Game 7s this year, they'll be ready," he predicted. "Just to make it to the playoffs, every game down the stretch was a Game 7."


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