OK, it ain't Stanley's cup

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:35 PM ET


 For their own purposes, Chris Clark, Steve Montador and Jim Playfair can look back on it as a mini-Stanley Cup run.

 After all, it was 19 games played every other day -- mostly do-or-die -- that followed the regular-season marathon. It's the kind of grind akin to one they'll endure should the Calgary Flames hope to seriously compete for the NHL's coveted championship.

 Forward Clark, defenceman Montador and assistant coach Playfair were key parts of the AHL-affiliate Saint John Flames when it won the Calder Cup championship of 2001.

 "It's got its similarities," said Clark, now a fifth-year winger with the big-league Flames.

 "But it has its differences. Obviously it's different leagues and different talents. But I think if you've won championships whether it's in the AHL or in college or in junior, there are similarities because you kind of know what it takes."

 Just what it does take is something the mostly inexperienced Flames will have to find out for themselves.

 Clark and Montador have fond memories of that magical run three springs ago when the Baby Flames won four series, including the final one in six games over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, to capture the Calder Cup.

 "The competition level is certainly different," said Montador.

 "But one thing actually that Clarkie and I have already talked about is how we focused for every game because every game and every shift is so important.

 "In the playoffs, every shift and every little play is big and it can turn into a turnover or a scoring chance for you or the other team.

 "If anyone asks us for our advice, that's something that I would point out. But it'll probably be used more internally for ourselves just as reminders."

 Which, according to Playfair, serves as outstanding experience for the pair, despite never playing in the NHL playoffs.

 "You live a different life during the playoff," said Playfair, the head coach of the victorious Baby Flames.

 "You change -- things get cut off from the outside world that aren't important. It's play, rest, play, rest, play, rest ... and I think that what we need to have is people who have a great ability to focus, people who have a great ability to make sacrifices and people who have a team-first attitude."


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