Plenty of opportunities for Flames' kids ahead in next week
Calgary calls up seven players for late-season audition
St. Paul, Minn. — Most of the kids will play. Some of the established players will sit.
This, according to Bob Hartley, is life in a rebuild.
“We’ve explained it to (the veterans),” the Calgary Flames coach said Sunday morning. “We want to see the young players in key situations. We don’t only want to play them, we will put them on penalty killing, power play, because, hey, that’s the way it is.
“Since 2004, (the Flames) haven’t won a round. The last four years, no playoffs. There has to be a turnaround somewhere. The answers will be on the ice. I’ve always said this, ever since I started to coach . . . we don’t make decisions. We observe. Players make their own decisions by their performances on the ice.”
One by one, toting luggage and hockey bags, the youngsters had clomped into the Xcel Energy Center in time for a morning skate. The airlift from the Abbotsford Heat included seven players.
For them, this is opportunity.
“It’s a chance to open up a little bank account,” said Hartley, “and have a few good deposits.”
Already determined by the Flames staff is when the recalls — goalie Leland Irving; forwards Carter Bancks, Paul Byron, Akim Aliu, Ben Street, Blair Jones — will suit up. (It’s worth noting that Greg Nemisz, a 2008 first-round pick, was not summoned.)
Defenceman Mark Cundari made his debut against the Minnesota Wild. Byron and Street also dressed.
Time is running out.
Only three dates remain, including Tuesday’s in Nashville.
“We have a schedule,” said Hartley. “We have established, as an organization, the number of games we want each of young players to play. And when I say young, I include (Sven) Baertschi, (Max) Reinhart, (Roman) Horak. We have a set number of games that we want to see those kids.”
Asked if Irving would see any action, Hartley said: “I don’t know.”
TOUGH SPRAIN FOR GLENCROSS
Curtis Glencross, the team revealed Sunday morning, suffered a Grade 2 medial-collateral ligament sprain to his left knee, on a collision Friday with Anaheim defender Ben Lovejoy.
Recovery is six to eight weeks. Meaning Glencross is not on the season-ending trip.
“Obviously, you never want to see guys with long-term injuries,” said Hartley. “You never want to see injuries, period. If it’s a two- or three-day injury, you keep the guy around the team . . . (so) this is sad, especially since we’re spending the last week on the road. You like the guys to be together and everything. Team unity is pretty strong.”
Hartley was reluctant to discuss the hit itself. Lovejoy had not faced supplementary punishment for the dangerous hit.
“I never called the league or anything,” he said. “Those guys, they see it. If they feel there is something (worthy of discipline), they’ll do something. Looking at our situation right now, if they suspend a guy, it doesn’t bring Glennie’s knee back.”
HIGH SCHOOL HERO
Ben Hanowski prefaced the discussion by admitting that his team in Little Falls was only Class A — not one of the Class AA powerhouses of Minnesota high-school hockey.
But chew on these numbers for Hanowski — the state’s all-time single-season record for points (135) and goals (73) in 31 games in 2008-09; the state’s all-time career record for points (405) and goals (196).
On the Minnesota charts — but well down the ladder from Hanowski — are the likes of T.J. Oshie, Neal Broten, Aaron Broten, Blake Wheeler.
But, as Hanowski pointed out, Little Falls (pop: 8,000, with six traffic lights) is not the Twin Cities.
He had contemplated taking the junior route, joining a USHL outfit. But he happily stayed home where he got to play alongside his older brother (by two years) Beau and his younger brother (by three years) Joey.
So that had been cool.
“I was lucky enough to play four years of high school,” said Hanowski, 22. “I came up as a freshman and played right away. I was just fortunate to be on a good team and have good coaches.”
Still, putting up those Gretzky-like numbers . . . .
“Who doesn’t like scoring two goals a night?” said Hanowski, chuckling. “It was obviously a lot of fun.”
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald