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Begin leading by example

Sunday, 04.14.2013 / 10:48 PM MT / News
By Aaron Vickers  - CalgaryFlames.com (@aavickers)
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Begin leading by example

CALGARY, AB -- Steve Begin came in on an audition.

He's showcasing himself again with just two weeks remaining in the season.

Earning a one-year, two-way contract out of training camp in January and without a contract for next season, Begin understands that while the Calgary Flames may be auditioning some of the youth in the system, he himself is auditioning for a role on the team next year.

"I'm just like a kid," said Begin, originally drafted by the Flames 40th overall in 1996. "Every year I've got to show everybody -- coaching staff, GM, everybody -- what I can do. It's the same story. It's not going to change, especially this year. It's going to be a big challenge for me. It's fun, so fun. It's all good. I know I can do it, so I just have to go out there and play my game."

The 34-year-old has seen the likes of Roman Horak, Maxwell Reinhart and Sven Baertschi summoned from the Abbotsford Heat in a showcase situation designed to give the Flames a jumpstart on what to expect out of the influx of youth slated to hit the club in September's training camp.

It's Begin's role to acquaint the kids to the National Hockey League.

"We've got to tell them what it takes," Begin said. "It's one step to play the first year in the NHL, it's another step to make sure you stay up there for a long time. It's even harder. You have to talk to them and make sure they're on the same page. They're good. We've got good young kids. They'll be good."

Maxwell Reinhart, who is just three games into his career with the Flames, is listening.

"He's a very experienced guy," Reinhart said. "He's one of the guys that will help you out if you ever need anything. He's a great guy to have as a young guy around because of his experience."

It's a bit of a delicate situation for the veteran of 520 career NHL games. The late-season call-ups he's been asked to mentor through the final three-and-a-half weeks of the season could in fact steal a job from Begin five months from now.

No worry, said Begin.

"It's all good. It's part of the job. I don't mind it at all," he admitted, flashing his trademark smile. "I've always been like this. We're on the same team. I don't care if they score five, 10, 15 goals. I'll be behind them cheering for them. I'm always happy when someone scores. If they bring them in, that's because they can do something to help the team and I'll be behind them, I'll be cheering for them.

"It doesn't matter to me. I want to win, that's it. If the kid's doing good, even if I'm competing with him, so be it. It's good for him."

That kind of response doesn't shock Reinhart, who is one of those youngsters that could put Begin's job in Calgary in jeopardy come September.

"I haven't known him for very long but he seems like the kind of guy that would take that attitude," said Reinhart, who recorded his first NHL point against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. "He's a guy that I obviously look up to. He's been around and he's had a career that anyone would want to have."

Reinhart is auditioning to start his career at the NHL level.

At the other end of the spectrum, Begin is hoping his previous 33 games and the next eight are enough to continue his in Calgary.