Flames notes: Dismissed by pundits, rebuilding club playing with a chip on its shoulder
Galiardi particularly fired up, ticked off by naysayers, especially those in Calgary
Hey, haven’t you heard?
The Calgary Flames, amid a complete and aggressive rebuild, will be lucky if they win 30 games this year.
What about pre-season Internet odds for winning the 2014 Stanley Cup? Let’s just say they’re not the same as the Pittsburgh Penguins.
How about the progress of top 2014 NHL draft prospect Sam Reinhart? Because, well, you just never know.
It’s only September, but already T.J. Galiardi has been listening to the predictions.
“I don’t really care what the media says about where we’re going to finish and stuff like that,” said Galiardi on Wednesday as the Flames veterans finished rounds of fitness testing and physicals at the University of Calgary kinesiology complex. “I don’t want to go out there and lose games. I didn’t come here to do that and I’m going to, personally, do everything I can to make sure we don’t. And I know there are 20-plus guys that are going to do the same thing.
“If we’re not working our hardest, that’s when people can have the right to complain and get on us, but if we go out there and play our hardest every game, I think the results will show.”
Keep in mind, the 25-year-old Flames forward is just like many of you — someone who was born in raised in this city, someone who has a Theoren Fleury rookie card somewhere, and someone who celebrated like you during the 2004 Stanley Cup final.
And now, since being traded to his hometown from the San Jose Sharks in the off-season, Galiardi is taking negative remarks somewhat personally.
“Oh yeah,” Galiardi said. “For sure. Since I’ve been here, to be honest, it kinda pisses me off when I hear people say all these negative things, ‘Oh yeah, have fun finishing last,’ stuff like that, even from people from Calgary.
“People like that should just not bother talking.”
Then again, people always talk. They’re talking right now, in anticipation of the on-ice product at the Scotiabank Saddledome which starts taking shape Thursday at WinSport’s facilities.
But Mark Giordano knows the deal.
“I’ve picked up a few of the predictions and newspapers and seen where we’re slated to finish,” said the Flames defenceman who has been in the organization since the 2005-06 season. “Talking to (Head coach) Bob (Hartley), he made a good point: we’re not trying to prove anybody wrong, we’re trying to prove people right. So, that’s what we’re going to try to do this year.”
The group hits the ice today. But even before a skate will be laced, the topic of conversation has been the rebuild. Who’ll be in net? Who’ll lineup at centre? Who’ll score goals? Who’ll provide the grit? Who’ll be the leaders?
With no Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich, and Jay Bouwmeester, there is a complete culture change visible to the public on Thursday.
The players understand this.
“We have to be tight knit,” Giordano said. “We have to play as a team and do all the little things right. That’s really the only chance we have. Hard working, hard to play against. That’s what we want to accomplish this year.
“When you do that, it can go a long way.”
Regardless of predictions, gossip, or analysis.
Galiardi said success is, ultimately, up to them.
“It all depends on what kind of product you put together and how the team gels,” he said. “When I was in Colorado, we made the playoffs when we were supposed to be getting the first overall draft pick or whatever it was. We just all liked each other, played the right way, listened to our systems and had a good goalie.
“I think we can get all those things going here.”
TOUGHEST DAY OF THE YEAR
On Wednesday, the Flames reported for their annual medicals and fitness testing.
And, with only 30 minutes to spare, Mike Cammalleri (gladly) stopped to chat with media.
“I’m on a break between the ‘challenging’ and ‘really challenging bike’ tests,” he reported. “An hour to go and only 365 days until the next one.
“No matter how many times you do it, no matter how many years, fitness testing day is always tough. You’re nervous and anxious and you look forward to not having to do it for a while.”
Mark Cundari’s day, if you’re wondering, looked like this: wake-up call at 5:45 a.m., wolfed down a banana, paid a visit to the Flames’ doctors, 12 minutes on the stationary bike, more bike sprints, squat and bench-press tests, flexibility measurements, and a 2.5 minute running sprint.
“Which was probably the worst experience of my life thus far,” said the 23-year-old defenceman who was part of the Jay Bouwmeester trade last season. “Super intense. Two minutes ago, I felt like I should grab a pillow and a blanket and pass out.
“It was tough.”
Interested in watching the Flames’ 2013-14 roster unfold?
On-ice sessions run on Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. with three groups skating at the same time on two rinks at WinSport’s facilities.
There will be scrimmages at 10 a.m. and 11:05 a.m. on both days.
Officially, Calgary’s pre-season schedule begins Saturday with a split-squad game versus the Edmonton Oilers at the Scotiabank Saddledome and Rexall Place.
The Flames head to Saskatoon Monday to face the Ottawa Senators and Regina on Tuesday to face the New York Islanders, another split-squad game with the other half at the Dome (7 p.m.).
Not skating at Flames main camp are D Chris Breen (rehabbing shoulder surgery), LW Morgan Klimchuk (abdominal wall strain) and D Eric Roy (abdominal wall strain) . . . Four cuts were made Tuesday: forwards Linden Penner, Dustin Smoskowitz, and Andy Taranto, along with defenceman Zach Davies . . . Davies and Taranto will report to the Abbotsford Heat training camp (which starts Sept. 20) while Penner and Smoskowitz return to their respective CHL teams . . . Over $365,000 was raised at Tuesday’s Calgary Flames Celebrity Charity Golf Classic. Proceeds go to the Flames Foundation for Life which will direct funds raised from the tournament to the Canadian Red Cross flood relief and Kids Cancer Care Foundations and Camp Kindle . . . Prospects Paul Byron and Corban Knight took home prizes for longest drive and the teams of Mike Cammalleri and Mark Cundari won the tournament as the low gross and low net winners.
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