PAYING HOMAGE TO HIS DAD
Flames forward Roman Horak has spent the last two seasons wearing #51 in Calgary but that is changing this year. The 22-year-old will don #21 this fall and the reasoning behind the switch is compelling.
"My dad, who played, it was one of his numbers throughout his career," Horak told CalgaryFlames.com. "We'll see how it works out."
His father, Roman Horak Sr., spent most of his professional career in his home country of the Czech Republic, playing in the Czech Extraliga. He spent seven seasons with Ceske Budejovice HC, the team based in Horak Sr. and Jr.'s hometown, between 1987 and 2002, and also played for Dukla Trencin, Sparta Praha and Havirov Femax HC. Horak Sr. also suited up in the Deutschen Eishockey Liga in Germany and SM-liiga in Finland.
"I've always looked up to him so (to wear his number) is cool."
Horak Jr. was acquired by the Flames in the trade that sent Tim Erixon's rights to the New York Rangers. The centreman is embarking on the final season in his contract and he's not only hoping to nail down a spot on the opening night roster - he wants to show management that he's an everyday NHLer and land another contract with the organization.
"I'm going to do my best. I've got to produce and be responsible defensively. I want to make the team this year and it's my last year (of my contract). It's one of my last shots."
THE CANADIAN MARKET
Shane O'Brien suited up for 141 games with Vancouver Canucks but the majority of his seven-year NHL career has been spent in the USA, playing for the Anaheim Ducks, Tampa Bay Lighting, Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche.
While the game has grown in the USA and hockey receives far more attention now than it has in years past, he is thrilled to be back in a Canadian market with extremely passionate fans.
"Personally, I think it's great but I know some guys don't like to play in Canada for that reason and I can see both sides of it. When you're playing well, it's great. But when you're playing bad, things are going to be said. The thing about Canadian hockey fans is they know the game. You're not going to be able to fool them."
The media coverage is also at a whole other level in Canada. Instead of having a couple of beat reporters doing post-game interviews in the pre-season, there are multiple television cameras, radio station broadcasters and print journalists inquiring about the happenings in an exhibition outing. Come the regular season, there could be upwards of 20 microphones in a scrum.
That can also be daunting for a player who isn't accustomed to that kind of media exposure but O'Brien appreciates the spotlight Canadian outlets place on the sport.
"I think it's more fun having the media attention, playing in front of a sold-out building every night ... there's just a buzz in the city. As a pro, I think that's what it's all about. It's a lot of fun."
"This is probably the hardest training camp I've ever been a part of. I'd put John Tortorella's right up there but Coach Hartley has been pushing the boys hard. We're going to be a very well-conditioned team and I think that's important." - O'Brien on pace of training camp
The Flames take on the New York Rangers on Monday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 7:00 PM MT. The game will be streamed live on CalgaryFlames.com and Sportsnet 960 The Fan will carry the radio broadcast.
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