FLAMES PROVING THEMSELVES
Coach Bob Hartley isn’t getting ahead of himself.
His Calgary Flames have taken four of a possible six points to start the season and has yet to lose in regulation, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to celebrate after prognosticators pegged the club to struggle this season.
“The feeling is great, but we have mixed emotions if we read the media because there were bricks flying and now flowers are coming,” Hartley said. “You can’t get too far ahead of yourself in this business.”
His team isn’t playing to prove those media naysayers wrong, either. Instead, his club is skating to prove others right.
“We’re a tight group and my message from Day 1 is lets prove the people who believe in us, lets prove those people right, the people who sit in our arena to watch us play, our sponsors, our owners, management. We play for them.”
It comes down to pride for Hartley.
“We’re proud people,” he said. “We’re cultivating pride here. We’re asking for hard work and right now that’s what we’re getting. There’s no celebration. No one will take a day off over here because we won’t let them.”
Ben Street, one of Hartley’s early-season surprises, certainly hasn’t.
Making the team out of camp, the Calgary pivot has steadily worked his way up Hartley depth chart and played 17:52 opposite the line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin in Sunday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
“He’s a two-way Street,” Hartley said. “He plays both sides of the puck very well. I can put him against best lineups on the other side. You look at what he did against the Sedins last game. He’s a little bit older than the rest of our centremen.
“He’s a great worker. We’re just rewarding him the way that he deserves to be.”
He’s also setting a strong example of perseverance.
At 26, Street is getting his first legitimate look in the National Hockey League. He spent three years in the American Hockey League after playing four years at the University of Wisconsin.
“It’s just a great example for young kids playing the game,” Hartley said. “Sometimes it doesn’t always go your way but if you persevere, good things will happen to you. Ben is a classic example of that. He comes to the rink. He enjoys playing the game. He’s fun to work with. He listens. I’m not surprised to see the way that he’s performing for us.”
BREEN EYEING RETURN
Defenceman Christopher Breen could return to action soon.
Sidelined six months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum last April, the 6-foot-7, 224-pound rearguard hopes to have clearance to return to action on Wednesday.
“I see the surgeon tomorrow and he’s going to tell me the definite answer but I’m hoping (to be back in) less than a week,” he said. “I’ve been feeling really good for a long time now. I’m thinking that when I see him tomorrow, he’s going to finally give me the green light.”
The 24-year-old has been limited to practicing with the team. Needless to say, he’s a little anxious.
“I’ve been antsy for about a month now.”
JACKMAN UNDERSTANDING OF SCRATCHES
“I feel for our guys, they’re unbelievable workers,” Hartley said. “I talked to them and explained to them the situation. They don’t like it, but they’re pros. They’re great guys around the rest of their teammates and we’re trying to create a family over here. The piece of pie is only a certain size and I’d love to dress 22 but the rules only permit 20. We feel that right now the 20 that are in the lineup, they deserve to stay.”
“It’s not fun watching but I’m cheering for these guys,” said Jackman, who played in 42 of 48 games last season. “We need to win. We’re doing some really good things and it’s fun to be a part of.
“Obviously I want to play and I’m frustrated that I’m not playing but I’m not letting the bitterness get to me because it’s not good for myself or my teammates or my family. I’m just trying to be ready, stay prepared, be in shape and continue to learn so when I do get my chance, I can help out any way I can.”
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