Baertschi's passion for the game impresses Ward

Thursday, 04.10.2012 / 7:19 PM / News
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)

ABBOTSFORD, BC -- Comparisons are a part of life.

Sometimes they aren't fair. Sometimes they place too high of expectations on a person. Sometimes they're spot on. But no matter what, comparisons are a part of life and when you're in the hockey industry, they are a staple.

When players are drafted, the first question asked is usually, "Who does he play like?" When a player is recalled from a club's farm team, people want to know what to expect out of him and immediately look to see the who the player has been compared to in the past.

Some coaches shy away from making these sort of references but Troy Ward, who is entering his second season as the Heat head coach, immediately had a comparison in mind when asked about one of the rookies attending training camp this week.

The bench boss sees quite a few similarities between Sven Baertschi, the Flames 2011 first round draft pick who dazzled Calgary fans during his five-game stint in the NHL last year, and one of his former players from his days with Pittsburgh Penguins.

"(Jaromir) Jagr was the same way. He loved to compete, he loved to get out there every day. His personality wasn't too high and it wasn't too low. That's what makes people special – their consistency.

"There's an extreme focus to (Baertschi). He doesn't have a lot of outside interests, he's a pretty focused kid. But he has just a tremendous energy on a day-to-day basis. This kid smiles, this kid competes, he just enjoys the game a lot. That's what stands out about Sven, and that's probably why he plays so well most of the time."

When told Ward had likened him to the NHL legend, a wide grin spread across Baertschi's face.

"That's kind of special," he said with a chuckle and a shake of his head. "I always looked up to those kind of guys. He's so much fun to watch."

Baertschi's exuberance has been very evident all week. The winger has looked right at home from Day 1 of training camp, adjusting seamlessly to the pace of the game thanks to the seemingly-endless energy Ward spoke of. And even after the most grueling practice, he leaves the ice with a smile on his face.

"It's great to have a job that you love," Baertschi grinned. "For me, it's just a perfect world right now. I'm really enjoying it right now.

"You better enjoy it. If you don't, I don't know (what) the problem is."