Hiller ready for fresh start with Flames
CALGARY, AB -- Few had a more stressful stretch to the opening of the free agent period than goaltender Jonas Hiller.
The Felben Wellhausen, CHE native spent the first few hours pining not over a new contract, but the fortunes of his Switzerland club at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
His team fell to Argentina 1-0. Hiller, though, scored a two-year deal with the Calgary Flames.
“I’m definitely excited,” Hiller said. “With the nerve-wracking last few hours, the one thing is, signing a new deal and, at the same time, I was trying to watch the Swiss soccer team at the World Cup. So, I had two nerve-wracking things going on.
“Signing a new contract was definitely my main focus for today, but at the same time I couldn’t resist putting the TV on. I actually went out of the house and watched it at a little public viewing going on. I don’t’ know if that was the best choice because in the second half, my phone started going off like crazy so I knew -- I just assumed that everything got in public. So, I just tried to handle both things at the same time.”
Hiller, 32, had no bearing on the outcome of his Swiss club, who fell in the round of 16 and have been eliminated from World Cup action.
He entirely dictated his destination in free agency, though, choosing to spend the next two seasons in Flames silks.
The opportunity that presented itself in Calgary’s crease was the determining factor, Hiller admitted.
“For me, I want to have a good chance to play as many games as possible and that looks like an option in Calgary,” he said. “It’s a young team. They’ve proven last year that they can play well. It definitely sounds like the management doesn’t want to wait forever to build a new team. They did some signings, they’re working on some trades.
“I’m excited to build something new and become a team, work together and hopefully have a lot of success.”
Brad Treliving certainly things the signing of Hiller will help that.
With two goaltenders in Hiller and Karri Ramo, the Flames general manager feels his club is strong in net.
“Our goaltending got better today,” Treliving said. “We talked about the end of the year that Karri had. Coming into free agency, coming into the summer here looking at ways to strengthen the position. We think we did that today. Jonas is familiar with the West. He’s had great success in this league. I think partnered with Karri, it gives us a great combination.
It also gives Hiller a fresh start.
The right-catching keeper was unceremoniously unseated as the starting goaltender for the Anaheim Ducks last season despite posting a 29-13-7 record with a 2.48 goals against average and .911.
Though he played six postseason games for the Ducks, the bulk of the load was given to 24-year-old Frederik Andersen. When Andersen went down with a lower-body injury, John Gibson, 20, was asked to pick up the slack.
“I think there, at the end, I wasn’t happy there because I felt I was playing well and, at the same time, I didn’t feel like I was getting the confidence,” Hiller said. “I think I could play even better. It wasn’t an easy situation but I thought I made the best of it. I tried to help the team if I were needed or if I had gotten the chance.
“I wasn’t happy with the situation. I knew that I wanted a change and I wanted something new where I really feel like I have a chance to really play at my best because people trust in me, I have trust in myself."
With a new two-year deal, he has the Flames trust, too.
“Having that opportunity, now in Calgary, definitely looks like I’ll have that chance," Hiller said. "But, at the same time, I know you always have to prove yourself – especially as a goalie, but I am excited and looking forward to that challenge.”