CALGARY, AB -- Brad Winchester didn’t waste words in vocalizing his pleasure to be participating in training camp with the Calgary Flames.
“First off I’m really excited to be here,” Winchester said. “I think everyone is excited to get back on the ice. I’m very excited for this opportunity and glad to be here.”
Winchester, who alongside fellow forward Steve Begin and defenceman Jeff McCarthy as the lone players coming into camp on a try-out basis, isn’t too unfamiliar with the process.
Accepting a similar offer a year ago from the San Jose Sharks, Winchester earned his way into inking a one-year National Hockey League contract. Getting a similar offer from the Calgary Flames a few days ago, the veteran of 390 career NHL games hopes to once again earn another deal.
But the Madison, WI product isn’t going to stress about the lack of a contract heading into training camp.
“It’s a situation where your mindset doesn’t change,” Winchester said. “You’re out there, once you step on the ice it’s game on and every day you prepare the same way. It’s really not too different for me.”
Nor will be the role Winchester is asked to play in camp.
Looking to add some size to the mix up front, general manager Jay Feaster opted to take a closer peek at what the six-foot-five, 230-pound winger can bring to Calgary’s forward core.
“We think that given the body of work that he has had in his career – he’s a big guy, he’s a hard guy to play against, he’s a tenacious guy on the forecheck, we thought he did a real good job in San Jose for example – we just felt that because he was willing to come in on a tryout basis that it’s a free look for us and we’ll see where it goes,” Feaster said.
According to Winchester, Feaster and the Flames coaching staff can expect to see in camp a whole lot of what they’re used to watching in the big winger, who has amassed 552 career penalty minutes.
“I like to play a predictable game along the wall and being around the net and getting in on the forecheck,” he described.
It’s a style that could to be valuable with a condensed schedule that will see Calgary play 48 games in a span of 97 days. It’s also a form Winchester was sure to keep in top shape over the lockout instead of sitting idly by waiting for his phone to ring.
“I had the opportunity to skate back in Wisconsin and it’s one of those things where it just happens,” he said. “You come in and you’re ready to play. That’s the nice thing about it. You can get right on the ice and get going right away.
Fortunately, Winchester is ready to go. With just one week before the Flames open up their season on home ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome against the San Jose Sharks, time is of the essence to earn his way onto Calgary’s roster.
But that’s not his state of mind.
“You’re out there, once you step on the ice it’s game on and every day you prepare the same way,” Winchester said. “It’s really not too different for me.”
He’s just happy to be here.
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