It is one of the worst days in a season. It's called garbage bag day. We'll call it clean-out day. It is the day, at the end of an NHL season, when a team cleans lockers, does exit interviews with coaches and management and gets the off-season workout binder.
It means the season is over. And, for the Calgary Flames, it means a second year in a row with out the post-season.
Throughout the day, Torie Peterson, Mike Board and Alex Ruiz will post here as news occurs.
9:30 am: The exit interviews began at about 8 am this morning. It takes about 90 minutes for players to complete their exit interviews. The first through is defenceman Brett Carson. He's gone before most of the media have arrived at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It is expected to be a steady string of players leaving the dressing room, meeting with the media and going on their way for the rest of the day. (MB)
10:30 am: Mikael Backlund says he has been invited to play for Team Sweden in the World Championships this spring. The 22 year-old can't keep the excitement out of his voice as he talks about the invite and what it means to him.
"I got email today saying they wanted me to come and play. I emailed them back, I'm really interested and want to go," he smiled. "From my standpoint, for myself, it's going to be a good opportunity to have another long season and play more games and enjoy my team with Team Sweden, representing my country which I love to do." (TP)
11:00 am: Assistant captain Robyn Regehr emerges from the dressing room. Oft-mentioned in trade rumours, he admits being part of the rumour circle is tough in the off-season. Last summer he was at his cottage in Saskatchewan and the Internet was churning out rumours about him being traded. Of course, none turned out to be true.
"You just try and deal with it the best you can," said Regehr. "If it is during the season you just go our and do the best you can to help the team win. It is different in the off-season because you don't have the rink and daily distractions. It is a little more difficult in the off-season. There's all kinds of people throwing stuff out there and seeing if it sticks. It's probably hardest when you get questions from family and friends because they are reading it, when nothing is going on, really."
As for the season, Regehr had this to say: "If you are going to get to the playoffs you have to manage the season and manage the losses. You can't have any long losing streaks. If we play the way we did the last 45 or 47 games of the season, we won't be in the same position next year." (MB)
11:50 am: Courtesy PR man Sean Kelso, we get a photo of Miikka Kiprusoff signing a bunch of special masks.
11:55: Cory Sarich does his media visit. Always accomodating and always insightful, he talks briefly about whether or not he will return (he has a year left on his contract but also a no trade clause) and then explains what lies ahead this summer.
"I though the consistency came back in my game. Last year was terrrible, with injuries and everything. I am always trying to work on things and keep pace with the game. That will be the same this summer. Just trying to stay up with the young guys," said Sarich. (MB)
12:30 pm: Rene Bourque chats about his season and admits he would have liked to have been more consistent throughout the year. His role changed throughout the season, moving from a go-to offensive winger to playing on the team's shut down line with Olli Jokinen. He wasn't sure what the team had planned for him next season but is looking forward to improving.
"I put up the same numbers as I did pretty much the year before. I wanted to improve a lot more," he said. "I'm not going to say I was happy with my year. There is room for improvement."
Many have speculated the Lac La Biche native would be invited to play for Canada at the World Championships but the winger has yet to receive word from Hockey Canada about the situation.
"I have no idea what's going on with that. I haven't been asked. Until that happens, I have no news." (TP)
1:15 pm: The ever affable Mark Giordano finishes up his exit interviews with hockey operations and stops to chat briefly with the media. He believes the team has found a winning formula and hopes to see it applied at the beginning of the next season.
"As far as next year goes, we start with a lot of urgency," he stated. "We have to look at our two-out-three game segments and maybe do that from the start. That urgency has to be there. It seems a long way away right now but it's what we need to do. We need to get in a good, solid position before Christmas rather than trying to make up ground after Christmas." (TP)
1:30 pm: First year netminder Henrik Karlsson is set to become an unrestricted free agent come July 1st but the Swede is hoping to resign in Calgary before that.
"I hope to be back here. I want to stay in this organization for a long time. We'll see what happens in the summer but I have a feeling they also want me here so we'll see if we can agree." (TP)