Cundari ready for chance
CALGARY, AB -- All Mark Cundari wanted was a chance. The Calgary Flames are set to give him one.
Acquired in the deal that sent Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues prior to the trade deadline, Cundari is set to make his National Hockey League debut on Calgary's four-game road trip to close out the season.
"It's great. Obviously I've never had one before," Cundari said after skating with the team on Friday. "It's good to finally be in an organization where they appreciate what I bring to the table and I'm looking forward to showing this team, the fans, the entire city what I do here."
What he does is simple.
Despite his small stature at just 5-foot-10, Cundari plays a rambunctious, agitating style designed to frustrate opponents.
"I definitely like to play that physical game, play on the edge, make guys be thinking of me out there as opposed to thinking about their own game," Cundari said. "That's kind of what I do. I'm not necessarily going to go out there and fight everybody, but I definitely want to play that nasty style of game."
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, coach Bob Hartley alluded to when asked about the style versus size of Cundari's game.
"The medical world has made unbelievable progress but still there's no machine that was invented to find out the size of the heart," Hartley said. "We talk about size, we talk about weight but lots of time with a big heart, lots of commitment, you can achieve a lot and I think he could be one of those young players."
But there's more to Cundari's game than just playing with an edge. Bearing a striking resemblance to current blueliner Mark Giordano, it's the consistency from the Flames' assistant captain Cundari is looking for.
"I think for me, it's mostly about consistency," the former Windsor Spitfires standout said. "Everyone in the NHL, they're here because they're consistent. There are skilled guys everywhere in the American Hockey League. There was a bunch of guys, definitely skill-wise, could play there but it's about being there game-in and game-out. For me, it's about playing my game, being physical, getting up in the play, shutting down whatever line I'm playing against, just be consistent."
And the physical similarities?
"Guys think we're twins out here, so that's pretty cool," Cundari said with a laugh.
While he may draw comparisons to Giordano, Cundari knows he has a long way to replace that former Flames defenceman he was acquired for.
"It's obviously an honour to get traded for a guy like Jay Bouwmeester, obviously one of the best defencemen in the league," he said. "For me, huge shoes to fill. I don't think I'm going to fill them on my own but I'm definitely going to do my best to take advantage."
With the opportunity given.