Glencross brings buckets of grit, but he continues quest for more consistency


Flames counting on big things from belligerent winger

Curtis Glencross carries the puck during a training camp session on Tuesday.

Curtis Glencross carries the puck during a training camp session on Tuesday.

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

The boss himself has taken note of the grit — and its insufficient levels locally.

Which makes it no surprise that Jay Feaster, as general manager of the Calgary Flames, is on the lookout for sandpaper. Maybe Steve Begin is the answer. Maybe Brad Winchester. Maybe both.

But it must be heartening for the Flames to know that Curtis Glencross hasn’t gone anywhere. That the guy who chased around Edmonton Oilers sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins early last season — shoving, slashing, shouting at the kid all night long — is making no promises to refine his game.

It will remain somewhat raw, somewhat erratic.

In an unsettlingly effective way.

Glencross might glide past you. Or he might drive a shoulder/elbow/glove/stick into your soft parts.

“He’s got that element — guys aren’t sure what he’s going to do,” Craig Conroy, part of the Flames’ braintrust, said on Day 3 of training camp. “He’s unpredictable — you don’t know what he’s thinking all the time. You never know what’s going to happen, which is good. That element of surprise. When you do see it, it puts everyone on the other team on alert.

“And the thing about Glennie is that he’s so fast. He can keep up with anybody and he’s always in your face. He can hit hard. He can do it all.

“We don’t have a lot of guys that do that. So the guys that can do that? They’re very valuable. Overall, he’s a huge part of the team.”

No fool, Glencross is aware of his (belligerent) bread and (badgering) butter, especially on an outfit not blessed with brute force.

It doesn’t hurt that being a miserable son of a gun appears to come quite naturally.

“Against top lines, you have to intimidate them,” said Glencross. “They’ve got to know coming into a hockey game that they’re going to be in for a war, that they’re not going to be able to dipsy-doodle and tiptoe around out there.

“Not everyone can be fragile and nice out on the ice — you have to have guys in different roles.”

In addition to being surly — the part of his personality that can extend into his dealings with reporters — Glencross is one the club’s swiftest skaters and owner of one of its hardest slapshots.

But it’s that nastiness that makes him singularly useful.

“You want him on the edge,” said Conroy. “The Steve Otts, they’re hard to play against. No easy nights. You look across and (groan), ‘Oh, here’s this guy again.’ And maybe sometimes you look across (at somebody else) and go, ‘OK, this is going to be a fun night. Maybe not much contact. Maybe some points.’ ”

Glencross is rarely anyone’s free pass.

“If Glennie gets upset or mad,” said Conroy, “that’s when his game elevates — when he’s quick on the forecheck, finishing checks, stealing pucks. So I don’t think he has to do any more, Bob (Hartley) just wants the consistency to be there.

“Bob’s really looking forward to working with Glennie.”

Given the opportunity, the bench boss made no grand pronouncements about No. 20 after Tuesday’s practice. But, no doubt, Hartley is aware of the value of the versatile forward, who can be deployed on both special teams.

Twice — pre- and post-lockout — skipper and player have hunkered down for constructive conversations.

“You have a new coach come in, and they expect lots out of you,” said Glencross. “It helps your confidence. It helps you as a player. It helps you want to achieve more. Everyone’s got a fresh start in here. When he comes in and tells me what he wants from me, it feels pretty good.”

Fresh off yet another career year — 26 goals and 48 points (in only 67 dates) — Glencross plans to maintain his rate of progress.

“I want to be more of an all-around player and (perform) more on a consistent basis,” he said. “Every player has stretches where they have a little lull in their game. The next part is . . . to try to get over that.”

Despite those signature blank-faced celebrations, the man does like to score. And he can score in bunches.

What then can he do in 48 games? Is 20 goals a possibility? (Remember, this is a fellow who tallied in seven straight dates at one point last winter.)

“I’d love to,” said Glencross. “Obviously, 48 games, 20 goals, that would be an excellent season for myself. I’m going to set my goals high. That’s where I want to be.”

Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH

Curtis Glencross carries the puck during a training camp session on Tuesday.

Curtis Glencross carries the puck during a training camp session on Tuesday.

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

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