Hudler remains in Czech Republic after father Jiri Sr. dies at 50
Funeral services scheduled for Friday; Flames gear up to offer support to teammate
Jiri Hudler departed Calgary on Monday morning to rush to the side of his ailing father.
Hudler’s dad, Jiri Sr., died later that day in Olomouc, Czech Republic. He was 50. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday.
“(Monday) when I sat with (Hudler), I told him I lost my dad when I was 18 years old,” said Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley. “It’s something you never want to happen, but unfortunately it’s part of life.
“We got the news sometime before (Tuesday’s) practice, but I didn’t think that was the right time for the coach to call the player. He has bigger things on his mind. Taking care of his family. We’ll do what’s right. We might dedicate the game to Jiri’s dad.
“Obviously, it’s a sad event, but we’ll try to draw positives from it.”
Hudler, an off-season signing by the Flames, will not lack for support when he returns to the team.
“You always try to say the right things to make sure he feels good — more importantly, that he feels that we’re with him,” Hartley said on Day 3 of training camp at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “Right now, he’s taking care of his family, but he’s also part of our family. We’ve talked about this in the last couple of days — I want this team to be like a family. When it hurts, we all feel it. When it’s good, well, we all have a smile.
“This is a very proud organization and we’re going to do the right things for Jiri.”
IGINLA ON VERGE OF SKATING
Jarome Iginla is expected to skate Wednesday with the team.
Hampered by a tight groin, the Flames right-winger has been working out on his own. Not surprisingly, Iginla is eager to re-join his chums.
“The captain is doing very well,” said Hartley. “And you know what? He’s doing so well . . . that he’s begging me to let him on the ice. Obviously, he’s the best judge. The medical staff is very comfortable with Jarome being on the ice.”
Too, Roman Cervenka (blood clot) and Anton Babchuk (shoulder) are not yet participating in team sessions.
“Like I told Jarome, ‘There’s no panic. We’re going to review everything that we’ve worked on,’ ” said Hartley. “That’s why we’re asking Jarome and Cervenka and Babber to watch practices. Obviously, they have the book. Now we’ll try to get the execution in.”
TANGUAY SHIFTED TO CENTRE
With a depleted lineup, especially up front, Hartley continues to tinker.
Alex Tanguay, this week at the Saddledome, was trying his hand at centre.
Getting elbowed in the schnozz Monday had not been the only pain.
“Trying to get used to a new pace, trying to get used to a new position, I don’t think I looked too good out there — I was a little bit out of place,” said Tanguay, typically a left-winger. “I feel fine physically, but I feel that I’m still taking too much time thinking about where I need to be. But I’m looking forward to the next few days of practice and hopefully I can improve.
“I know how to play it. I used to play it. But it’s going to take a little bit of time.”
Tanguay emerged from junior in 1999 as a pivot. But arriving at the Colorado Avalanche camp, he was behind the likes of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. So working the wing turned out to be a fine option for the teen.
“To be on Joe’s wing was not a bad thing,” said Hartley, chuckling. “Better to be on the left wing than eating popcorn upstairs.”
HARTLEY MUM ON ROSTER
The Flames need to declare their 23-man roster by Friday afternoon. But that doesn’t mean the skipper was tipping his hand.
“I’ve never commented, anywhere that I’ve coached, who’s ahead of who . . . because I don’t think it’s healthy,” said Hartley. “Because players are like coaches, we say we don’t read (the newspapers), but it’s not always exactly the case. The ranking of our guys, we keep it for us. But it will not be an easy decision. I’m anticipating hours of meetings.
“It’s a tribute to the players — no one is slacking, no one is dogging it out there.”
“We want to experiment,” said Hartley. “If there’s one thing about me, I’m not scared to change my lines, so you never know.”
SEASON-OPENER AN HOUR EARLIER
Sunday’s season opener against the San Jose Sharks — now featuring a 4 p.m. start, by the way — is the stage for the Flames’ “welcome back” initiatives. Fan appreciation continues Monday when the Anaheim Ducks drop in.
Here are some highlights:
* 50 per cent off on all food for the first two games
* 50 per cent discount on Flames merchandise at FanAttic locations until the end of Game 1
* Guaranteed $100,000 pot for the 50-50. Minimum winner’s take for the first two games is $50,000.
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
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