Kelusky's visit to Calgary not all business

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 PM ET

CALGARY - If anyone needs to talk with Tracey Kelusky, they need to go through Calgary.

Despite leaving this city nearly two years ago and taking his family back home to Peterborough, Ont., the former Calgary Roughnecks captain still has a 403 cellphone number.

It's his one direct connection to Alberta left after he was traded to the Buffalo Bandits in the summer of 2010.

The old plan he had in Calgary was too good to give up, so he didn't.

"My friends in Peterborough get a little annoyed they have to call long distance to get a hold of me," Kelusky said. "Why do I have to dial Calgary to talk to you?"

When the Bandits play the Riggers Saturday night at the Saddledome, it will be Kelusky's second visit as a member of the opposition.

This one doesn't carry as much emotion as last year's home-opener, which was Kelusky's first game as a member of the Bandits.

But this trip will be about fun as well as business. With four-year-old son Kellar left at home, wife Emily is tagging along to visit all the friends they made in nine years spent in Calgary.

This could be the last National Lacrosse League game Kelusky plays at the Dome, but he thought that last year, too.

With another year on his contract, the 36-year-old isn't exactly on a retirement tour, but there is no guarantee the Bandits come back this way again.

If this is the final one, Kelusky would like to make it a good one, and he knows the task of beating the Riggers (7-3) will be a tough one for the Bandits (4-6).

"I know what to expect from them, and so does the rest of our team," Kelusky said. "They are well-coached. We know their pressure defence.

"They have a lot offensive guys who can put the ball in the net. Not much has changed since I was there."

While with the Roughnecks, Kelusky was the undisputed offensive leader as well as being team captain.

He doesn't play the same role with the Bandits -- a team that boasts all-time NLL leading scorer John Tavares.

In 10 games this season, Kelusky has just 10 goals. Back when he was with the Riggers, there were nights when he approached that total in a single game.

Twice Kelusky scored eight times in a game, which is still franchise record.

Although the numbers aren't what they used to be, Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym isn't fooled. He's seen enough tape of No. 17 to realize he's still dangerous.

"Some people think he's having an off-season, but when I watch him play, I see him do a lot of little things that create chances for his teammates," Pym said. "He's a catalyst for that offence. We have to be aware when he's on the floor."

For years in Calgary, the Riggers offence was based around Kelusky, franchise original Kaleb Toth and lefty sharp-shooter Lewis Ratcliff.

Ratcliff was traded in '08, while Toth now plays a smaller role with the Riggers. There is a question every night whether Toth is even dresses.

"He's been the face of the franchise for a long time," Kelusky said about Toth. "I know it's tough on him (to sit in the pressbox for games). He's been there for so long that it's difficult watching."

The transition from the Roughnecks to the Bandits and from Alberta to Ontario was a big one for the Kelusky family.

And things may not have gone as well on the floor as he would like, but at least the concussion problems he had in Calgary are well in the past.

At least he has his health.

"It's been 21/2 years now. I'm optimistic it's well in the past," Kelusky said. "I've made a point of making sure I'm in shape coming into camp.

"I know I'm not getting any younger. I have to take care of the body more than in the past."

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby


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