Baertschi taking it all in
CALGARY, AB -- Despite the horde of media surrounding his stall, Sven Baertschi didn't appear nervous when he ambled into the room after practice, smiling at everyone as he made his way through the crowd.
"As soon as I got the call, I was so excited," he said. "It's good to be here. It's an awesome feeling."
The 19 year-old was recalled on an emergency basis by the Calgary Flames on Wednesday afternoon and Baertschi mania has been sweeping the city ever since the news broke. Baertschi has been an offensive powerhouse for the WHL's Portland Winterhawks all seasons, collecting 94 points in 47 games. His 2.00 points-per-game average even tops WHL leading scorer, Brendan Shinnimin. The Tri-City Americans pivot is averaging 1.89 points-per-game this year.
"I'm just going to try to do my best out there," was his response on if he felt any pressure to perform at a high level in Calgary due to his tremendous season in Portland. "I hope people don't have too high of expectations for me yet. I'm going to try my best out there. I know it's not going to the same as juniors, it's going to be a lot harder out there. I just have to do the simple things."
Even though he looked like a seasoned pro when it came to handling media scums, Baertschi admitted his nerves had flared up since being recalled.
"Crazy nervous but I think that's normal," he grinned. "If you jump in right now, it's so important - the playoff run - so if you jump in now, it's a huge difference than the start of the season."
That anxiety stems largely from the fact Baertschi had no idea the team was even considering recalling him. The winger had been keeping track of all of the injuries the team had suffered but never thought he would be one of the players getting the call this season.
"For sure it's a surprise. It's a dream. As I got the call, it was just empty in my head. I didn't know what to think."
It looks like Baertschi will start on the third line with Tom Kostopoulos and Greg Nemisz. Kostopoulos, the veteran member of the trio, chatted with the youngster throughout the morning skate to get to know him but refrained from offering advice to the 19 year-old.
"I think we've just got to let him play. You can't worry. Everyone is going to make mistakes. Every guy makes mistakes. He's going to make his good plays, he's going to make mistakes but we can't harp on him too much. Let him play, let him have fun and he'll learn along the way and we'll help him out."
Head coach Brent Sutter echoed Kostopoulous' statements when he chatted with Baertschi before practice.
"He wants me to have fun out there," Baertschi said. "He wants me to enjoy the whole thing. Not everybody gets called up like me so it's a really exciting time. I just have to enjoy the whole thing and try my best."