Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blue Jackets
CARRYING THE LEADERSHIP LOAD
The captain may be gone, but the leadership in the Calgary Flames dressing room remains as strong as ever.
And while coach Bob Hartley doesn't plan on putting the 'C' on another until the summer, the core of assistants in Curtis Glencross, Jay Bouwmeester, Mike Cammalleri and Mark Giordano can more than carry the load.
"I told them that their responsibilities were even increasing and I told them that they have done an unbelievable job with Jarome," Hartley said. "But from now on, we will go with a rotation of three assistants per game and I just told them I wanted to see them perform, to keep them putting their leadership out there every day whether it's in the room or on the ice with younger players and they were all good with this."
The first step, from a leadership standpoint, is getting over the loss of Iginla, the franchise leader in games played (1219), goals (525) and points (1095).
It isn't an easy task, but one accomplishable with the number of veterans in the dressing room, according to Matt Stajan.
"I think it is what it is," he said. "Definitely you have a guy that's been the face of the franchise for a lot of years. It's a little different but we have a lot of veteran guys in here and we're dealing with it. We move on. We're a positive group and have been good in this rink in the last month so we're going to keep that going tonight."
Coming off an emotional 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche - the first game in 441 straight without Jarome Iginla in the lineup - the Flames are tasked with keeping that emotional level up against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
Given the circumstances surrounding Wednesday's trade it might be difficult, Blake Comeau said.
"I think we all knew Jarome probably wanted to be in the lineup (on Wednesday)," he said. "I think the energy level was up. We all knew Jarome wanted to be in the lineup and we were all sad to see his jersey not hanging in the room when we got to the rink."
The biggest obstacle came without the captain in the lineup against Colorado, according to Hartley.
"I felt like the players reacted very well on Wednesday," he said. "I felt that Wednesday was a bigger challenge than tonight because there was lots of uncertainty. We had to scratch Jarome because a deal was not completed but a deal was in the works. They saw Jarome yesterday. Tonight is the new start."
While most of Calgary's attention was on Jarome Iginla's departure Thursday, Jay Feaster's focus was squarely on college free agent Dan DeKeyser.
The 23-year-old defenceman listened to a pitch from the Flames' general manager, who was accompanied by Hartley.
The Western Michigan University standout left an impression on the Flames' coach.
"I was very, very impressed," Hartley said. "I've watched many of his games through our video system. We were able to track down many of his minutes played in different situations in different games. Obviously we put on our best sales pitch that we could and that's part of building the new era, getting some solid building blocks to put this team on and we feel that he would be a very interesting piece for us. We communicated this with Danny and his agents and we're just waiting his answer."
Approximately 20 teams are making pitches to the six-foot-three DeKeyser, who Hartley called "the total package."
"He's a good puck-moving defenceman," he said. "Very smart in his own zone. Great vision. Can skate very well."