Stajan's renaissance year
CALGARY, AB -- While he is disappointed with the way the 2012-13 campaign went for the team, Calgary Flames pivot Matt Stajan can look back at his season, personally, as a successful venture.
Deemed one of the team's most consistent forwards by head coach Bob Hartley, Stajan looked like a completely different player than years past, buoyed by the confidence gained from increased responsibility and ice time.
"I think it was my best year personally. The coaching staff showed a lot of confidence in me early in the season and gave me an opportunity. I really appreciated that and wanted to make the best of it.
"I felt like I did a pretty good job and it's definitely something I want to build off of next season."
The 29 year-old scored five goals and recorded 23 points in 43 games - five more than he posted in 61 outings in the 2011-12 season - and led the team with a plus-seven rating. Only he and Lee Stempniak registered plus-ratings this past year, making that stat even more important when looking at his season.
"I'm happy with where my game is at personally. I know things I need to work on - you can always get better - but I'm hoping I'll come back next year and build off of this season. I couldn't have asked for a better turnaround from where I was personally the last couple seasons here."
In addition to his renewed confidence, Stajan appeared to be stronger on the puck and much tougher to knock off of his skates. Flames General Manager Jay Feaster lauded the centreman's off-season conditioning regimen in his post-season address, expressing how impressed management is with Stajan's commitment to his training.
"He was obviously active as our player rep, and as one of the members who was part of the negotiating committee on behalf of the NHLPA during the work stoppage,” Feaster said. "And yet, he was very, very diligent about getting himself ready to go and getting himself in shape.
"He came in great shape, and because he got that opportunity, the coach said, 'I’m going to use you, I’m going to lean on you.'"
While he is pleased with his own performance in the shortened season, Stajan is still feeling frustrated missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season. He's holding onto that irritation and disgruntlement and wants to use it as extra motivation in the 2013-14 campaign.
"You want to be playing hockey right now, that's what you play for. It's disappointing. No one can be satisfied in our dressing room and you've got to remember this feeling and next year, do something about it."
With the departures of Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester, the uncertainty over Miikka Kiprusoff returning and Calgary holding onto three first round picks at the 2013 NHL Draft, the Flames will undoubtedly undergo a makeover in the off-season. While Stajan isn't sure what the team will look like come training camp, he's optimistic about the organization's chances of success next year.
"There's going to be some excitement with the draft picks we have and there's a lot of cap space. It will be an interesting summer. The one thing as a player that makes you really comfortable playing here is the ownership group. They want to win and we want to do it right away.
"As a player, especially at my age, you want to make sure you're not in an organization where they're going to take 6-7 years to try to turn things around."