CALGARY, AB -- Tim Jackman's been around the National Hockey League to know there's no sense in peeking over your shoulder.
There's always someone younger in the rearview looking to steal your job.
While the Calgary Flames are getting decidedly younger as they embark on the first stage of a rebuilding process this season, the 31-year-old remains confident that it won't come at the expense of his roster spot.
"I'm comfortable where I'm at in my game, where I'm at in my life," Jackman said. "I think I can be a big part of this team and I can help this team in a lot of ways. I believe that they will see that in the way that I've played and the things I've been doing."
But, as coach Bob Hartley cautioned, the veterans shouldn't be too calm.
Especially with some many kids remaining in camp.
"Veterans should always be nervous," he said. "This is a job that you steal a jersey as soon as you steal that jersey, you turn around and someone is trying to take it back from you. That's the cycle of this business for all of us. That's the way it goes. Whether you're nervous or not, the only thing you control is your play and what all of our youngsters, why they're still here is that they showed a certain talent, they showed a commitment and they showed confidence."
Jackman understands that fact, just as he understands why the organizational mandate is to give the kids a chance.
And he's willing to help those kids along in their development, even if it eventually does end up costing him his job.
"I look at the young guys and I want to help them," the 6-foot-2, 225-pound winger said. "If they take my job, good for them, they earned it. If not, I'm here to help and to help the team and to help these young guys learn how to be a pro."
Though age may be on the side of those chasing down Jackman's spot, the veteran has one advantage that only comes with time -- experience.
"It's comfort," said Jackman, a veteran of 390 career NHL games. "I know a lot of the guys. I know the management and the people around. It's just a good feeling to be here. This is where I want to be."
He's got more than that going for him.
While the Flames have put a premium on both getting younger and developing their prospects into full-time NHLers, there's also mandate on making Scotiabank Saddledome a tougher place to play.
That's right up Jackman's alley.
"They've got big guys throughout the league and I think I'm a big guy, I can skate, I'm strong," he said. "It's only beneficial to this team I think to have me on the ice and be a presence. I can skate, I can get around and I can hit and I'll do all those things. When they need me, I think I can help this team, for sure."
He's put those skills on display in preseason games against the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders -- both performances Jackman came away satisfied with.
"In the game against Edmonton I felt I played good and the game against the Islanders I thought I did a lot of good things for our team," he said. "That's what I can do. I can bring that to the team and I expect to be here (in Calgary)."
He doesn't just expect to stick around.
Jackman wants to be around to help the Flames navigate their rebuilding process.
"I see a lot of good things happening and I feel that I can help out the young guys and that I am a leader in the room, I'm a leader on the ice and guys look to me for certain things," he said. "I'd love to help out in that area in a leadership role."
And help Calgary's kids develop, knowing full well they're out to steal his jersey.
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