Displaced by flood, Hanowski benefits from charity of coach Gelinas’ mother-in-law
Flames winger and roomie Max Reinhart given residence in house next door to assistant bench boss
Players, nearly all of them, are familiar with the doghouse.
But how many have ever taken up residence in the coach’s mother-in-law’s house?
Which, as much as it sounds like a punchline, is actually a dandy place to be.
Forced out of their downtown digs by the flood, Calgary Flames rookies Ben Hanowski and Max Reinhart had desperately needed somewhere to crash for the summer. Solution? Leave that to Martin Gelinas, who opened his own doors to his mother-in-law, which left her house — right next door — vacated for the boys.
And as if Hanowski and Reinhart needed further enticement, the family threw in a freshly baked loaf of banana bread.
“They did us a really big favour, allowing us to come in there after we had to evacuate,” says Hanowski. “We’re right next to Coach Gelinas, so he’s had a good eye on us.”
Hanowski, part of the return on the Jarome Iginla trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins, had planned to make this one unforgettable off-season. How could he have known how memorable it would become?
On the Friday morning, June 21 — with water rising, with cops ordering them to depart their Riverfront Avenue apartment — he and Reinhart, fuelled by genuine fear, skedaddled in their rental vehicle.
“We made a run for it,” Hanowski says. “We put our stuff in the car and took off . . . on a side road. For me, it was scary. I’m not from here. I hadn’t really known where to go. And my folks back home (in Minnesota) didn’t even know there was a flood. I called my mom and she was asking me how everything was going and I go, ‘Mom, I’m getting evacuated. Look online. I’ll call you when I’m safe.’ She was freaking out. I was shaken up. A little nervous.
“I was in panic-mode for a little while. It was an experience.”
But Hanowski is managing to remain focused on his upcoming challenge — his first full season of pro hockey. Training with Rich Hesketh, the team’s whip-cracker of a strength coach, time has not been wasted.
The 22-year-old is slimmer. Even a couple of dim-bulb reporters could tell.
“I’m glad you guys noticed,” says Hanowski, laughing, after Thursday morning’s session at the Flames’ development camp at WinSport’s Ice Complex. “I’m feeling good.”
Six foot two, he has whittled his chassis to 205 pounds, eight fewer than last season. Hanowski, soon after joining the Flames last spring, knew he’d have to shore up his fitness.
“It’s a different animal,” he says of NHL-conditioned skaters. “Those guys have been putting in six, seven years where they’ve just been hitting it hard. So you’ve really got to push it. For a guy like me — not the fastest guy in the world — I really need to make sure I do the things off the ice the right way.”
It had not taken him long to discover the shortcoming.
“First practice, I was sucking wind. And those guys were, ‘This is nothing.’ ”
Nutritionally, the Little Falls, Minn., native is also upgrading.
“Eating more greens — even if it is a battle to get them down.”
Emotionally, too, Hanowski needed to be rejuvenated.
Last season, in a matter of weeks, his rights were traded to the Flames, he represented St. Cloud State University at the Frozen Four, he made his NHL debut (and popped his first goal) — all the while trying to keep track of his school work.
“Hectic and crazy,” says Hanowski, “but I’d love to do it again.”
However, it did take its toll.
So, at the season’s conclusion, the young man scheduled some non-negotiable me-time.
“I might have slept for a whole day,” says Hanowski, chuckling. “My mom calls me and she’s trying to ask me all these questions, and I said, ‘Mom, I’m not talking on the phone at all today. I’m going to sit on my couch for a whole day and just relax and veg out and not worry about classes or what just went on. Give me a couple days to let it all sink in and calm back down.’ ”
Having survived that — a crash course in NHL life — Hanowski is better equipped to handle the autumn.
“When I had my exit meetings, I told them, ‘It’s a huge jump for me . . . coming into camp knowing what to expect,’ ” says Hanowski. “Whereas if I didn’t get to come up (and play five games in April), I’d have been coming in, in the dark, and I would’ve got socked right in the face. I wouldn’t have been ready.”
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald