Curtis Glencross is good to go.
"It’s nice,’’ said the injury-plagued left winger, back in the lineup tonight for the first time since being sidelined Dec. 21 due to a high ankle sprain. "It’s been a long stretch here since the break, getting bagged (skated) every day. Felt real good again today.
"Most of it’s a confidence thing, trust that it’s completely healed. Hammer it into your head. You’ve got to put yourself in situations that you’re a little uneasy to get into but you definitely have to leap in head first and try it out.’’
This has been a difficult season for Glencross. Injuries have limited him to 21 starts.
"Things were just starting to get rolling again when I got hurt in Pittsburgh,’’ sighed Glencross. "The timing’s going to be a little bit of a factor hopefully we can get that out early and get better and better as the game goes on.’’
Flames’ boss Bob Hartley is rightly tickled to have his abrasive, high-scoring winger back in harness to face the Anaheim Ducks.
"It’s huge. He’s a big part of this hockey club. It’s been a tough year for Curtis. Hey, players want to play.
"How much minutes he’s going to play, I don’t know. We’ll monitor this with Curtis during the course of the game. We’ll make sure he feels great. Medically he’s cleared but we just want to make sure his conditioning is up where he feels is the best and we’ll go from there.
"This is a good day. He gets to play. But the season’s winding down. I’ve told him I want him to use this season to give him a jump start for next season.
Still trying to wrap his head around the news, Sean Monahan remembered a smiling, happy kid.
"A loss of words more than anything, when you hear that,’’ said the Calgary Flames’ rookie, reacting Wednesday morning to the death of Saginaw Spirits’ forward Terry Trafford. They’d been teammates growing up and then opponents during their junior careers.
"He was a good kid. Obviously I don’t know the full story. To lose someone like that is pretty heartbreaking.’’
Trafford was sent home by the team prior to his disappearance "for a violation of rules" after spending four seasons with the Spirit, scoring 29 goals and 49 assists. He had eight goals and 24 assists this season. Trafford’s girlfriend Skye Cieszlak told The Saginaw News that he "was devastated" after the team sent him home "for partying on a road trip."
Trafford found’s body was found Tuesday afternoon in an SUV in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Saginaw County’s Saginaw Township.
"We played minor hockey together and against each other in the OHL,’’ recalled Monahan softly. "If I saw him we’d talk at the rink. Obviously we weren’t the closest of friends but he was a guy I’ll always remember. Always smiling.
"There’s so many people out there he could have talked to. I feel so bad. It’s just heartbreaking news and I’m just praying for his family right now.’’
For Joni Ortio, the initial sighting of No. 8 flying down that right flank, at top speed, tonight might prompt a quick double-take. This’ll be, after all, his first look at Teemu Selanne in the flesh as an opponent.
"It is special to play against him,’’ said the Flames’ rookie goaltender. "SO special. For sure. What he’s done for Finnish hockey is something unbelievable. No else has come close. And probably never will. So it’s kinda surreal for me.’’
The Flames’ Turku-born goaltender may be a Miikka Kiprusoff devotee - for obvious geographical and positional reasons - but like every other fan of the game, he isn’t immune to Selanne’s unparalleled lure.
"What he’s done is unreal. At his age, to still be among the top player in the NHL. And the Olympics? Unbelievable. How everybody loves him and cheers for him? He loves the game. So devoted, dedicated to hockey. That’s why he’s still at the top.’’
Selanne, who pushed Finland to a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics, will retire - whenever that might be - as one of the most cherished players in NHL hockey.
"I mean, when he played his first NHL I wasn’t even born yet!" blurted the 21-year-old Ortio. "And he still might retire after me.’’
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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