MacDonald C's the bright side

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

Being named captain of a minor league affiliate could be the kiss of death.

At least to those with NHL dreams.

Craig MacDonald received the letter when the season began for the Omaha Knights but it didn't mean the end of his chances to see the bright lights of the big leagues.

After all, less than a month into the campaign the forward was recalled to the Flames.

"I went through the same thing one year in Lowell, so I wasn't worried about it," he explained yesterday. "We had a vote and I was named captain and I thought it was great. I want to be a leader, help those young guys out.

"When they want to call a guy up, they want him whether he's a captain, an assistant or whatever."

Helping the matter was that Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter gave the 28-year-old his word a call-up would be in the cards should injury problems hit the club.

"He said, 'You'll get your chance,' " MacDonald recalled. "Obviously, I was disappointed about being sent down but I understood what the situation was.

"But he was loyal and gave me the opportunity quickly. I'm grateful to get the chance."

Now the onus is on him to make the most of this opportunity. MacDonald has spent nearly a decade trying to crack a full-time gig, having played 116 NHL games for Calgary, Carolina, Florida and Boston.

The product of Antigonish, N.S., who spent a couple of seasons at Harvard before turning pro, has the size, speed and right attitude.

It's just a matter of putting it all together.

"The new NHL is a fast-paced game and one thing I can do is skate, so I try to use my speed, be physical and provide energy for the players," said the forward who is yet to collect a point for the Flames.

How long this window of opportunity stays open remains to be seen.

When MacDonald was summoned, the Flames were without forwards Matthew Lombardi and Darren McCarty. McCarty has since returned, replaced by Chris Simon among the wounded, but he's now nearing a return, too.

Which could soon mean a demotion for MacDonald.

"It's natural to think about that but I've always tried to go day to day and control what I can on the ice. I just have to be ready when I'm asked to go and will go hard," he said.


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