CALGARY, AB -- Joe Colborne knows the Calgary Flames took great strides in the first year of building back up the Calgary Flames.
But he’s more than aware the hill to climb is still a steep one.
And while the Flames can take great pride in finishing the season 19-14-0 from January 18th onward -- a winning percentage worthy of a little confidence heading into 2014-15 -- Colborne isn’t willing to accept any setbacks.
“It’s a lot easier said than done,” said the 6-foot-5 forward, who re-upped with the Flames on a two-year term Tuesday. “Nobody expects a sophomore jinx, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work. Trust me, we know with our coaching staff that we will be coming into the regular season and we’ll put more time in on the ice than anyone else and we’ll be in good shape.”
After all, Colborne saw the benefits first hand after being acquired by Calgary partway through camp last September.
“It was definitely an eye-opener for me to come in,” he said. “I considered myself to be in excellent shape when I came in, especially going through a training camp with Randy Carlyle. He doesn’t have an easy camp, but it was on a whole different level and it took me a while to step in and figure out the expectations of what it’s like here.”
The mentality worked well for Calgary last season.
The Flames, devoid of longtime franchise faces Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, rallied around a blue-collar, lunch-pair persona that offered a lot of optimism despite finishing with the fourth-worst record in the NHL.
“A lot of it comes from that and the top right on down,” said Colborne, whose 10 goals, 28 points and 80 games played were all career highs. “We have that hard-working mentality and never-say-die attitude that we rallied around last year. Our captaincy, our coaches, they’re the ones who are going to lead the way.
“It was such a good learning year for me and for so many guys on the team. To just have a year to play with guys like Mark Giordano and guys like Matt Stajan, who were so instrumental to not only myself but [Sean Monahan], to [Lance Bouma], to even guys like [Mikael Backlund] and to watch our growth, it’s an exciting time for us.”
A time -- and work ethic -- Colborne expects the Flames to continue into next season.
“I think we did a good job at proving that teams don’t want to come play us and if they want to come beat us, they have to work for it,” he said. “That’s something we’re looking forward to bringing again next year.
“It’s up to us to pick up where we left off and make steps forwards.”
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