Raymond has no regrets despite enduring seven-day Swedish whirlwind tour
Cochrane native joined Orebro HK for just two games before NHL lockout was settled
Mason Raymond had just overcome his first round of jet lag in Orebro, Sweden, when he heard the news that the National Hockey League was back in session.
So, along with his wife Megan and nine-month-old Max, the Vancouver Canucks forward flew back across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Calgary on Monday night.
In total, he and his young family spent a week overseas while he played twice with Orebro HK of the Swedish first division — an experience that partly left him wondering why he left North America in the first place.
“In hindsight, maybe I should have stayed here,” Raymond, 27, was saying after a morning skate with several other NHLers and members of the Calgary Flames at the WinSport Ice Complex. “Not that I wish I didn’t go, but travelling is hard on your body. It’s one thing to go here or Toronto or wherever, but going over to Europe, especially with your family and taking care of your little one and making sure he’s doing well, it’s hard.
“But I’m glad I did go and we have to regroup and get prepared for what’s ahead and that’s going to Vancouver and playing well there.”
Skating on a bigger ice surface, the Cochrane native played loads of game situational minutes and spent time on the power play and penalty kill. He said he suffered from jet-lag during his first game — a 4-3 loss Jan. 3 against Mora IK — as he was still adjusting to the time change. But the second game — a 3-2 shootout win over IK Oskarshamn — he collected a goal on the power-play.
“I kind of committed to going over there before there was any word that we were having talks again,” Raymond said. “I ended up being there seven days and it was a blast. I’m glad I went. It was a new experience — the culture, learned the hockey, a great experience and met some friends.
“I logged a lot of Air Miles but that’s all part of it. It is what it is and you learn as you go.”
Raymond, who is awaiting Canucks’ training camp details, packs up again to head to YVR on Tuesday.
Still, despite all of the wasted time in airports, he was thrilled to get the word.
“Obviously, it was exciting,” he said. “You live to play in the best league in the world. But at the same time, you have mixed emotions. I was really enjoying myself. We just got there, we were just experiencing the city, just got into some games, and met some great people and teammates and that sort of thing. But I full well knew that going in there that there was going to be a chance that I could be there even shorter than that or a couple months. Who knows?
“But I am glad I experienced it.”
BMO REMAINS UNSIGNED
Brendan Morrison, a member of the NHLPA’s negotiating committee, pitched in to take care of one bit of business.
Now, it’s on to the next item.
Unsigned, the former Flames centreman skated Tuesday. Soon he’d like to hear a contract offer.
“Everything’s up in the air, I don’t know,” said Morrison, 37, who, last season, split his time between the Flames and the Chicago Blackhawks. “Do I still feel I can play? Yes, I do. Am I absolutely dying to play? No. But I would like to play if it’s the right situation and I think it’s the right fit — that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”
With 934 games to his credit, Morrison says his knees are fine. An aggravating wrist injury has been surgically looked after.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Morrison, a student of the game, was asked what kind of a squad holds the edge going into the upcoming 48-game dash.
“A team that gets out of the gate well,” he said. “You don’t want to come out slow. There’s so much parity in the league. And we know, over the course of an 82-game season, how difficult it is to gain on teams. So if you get behind a group of teams now, it’s almost impossible to catch up.
“And teams that have had players playing (overseas) have a bit of an advantage. It won’t take those guys as long to get their timing back.
“I also think that having a veteran team helps. Guys that have been through it before, they know what to expect — they know, mindset-wise, where to be at going in.”
CERVENKA ON HIS WAY
As it turns out, Roman Cervenka will attend the Flames’ main camp.
There had been concerns that a blood-clot condition would prevent the 27-year-old from joining his new club. But the forward has been cleared for takeoff.
“Basically, where we are right now is he is able to travel and the doctors that have been taking care of him over in the Czech Republic are quite optimistic about how quickly he’ll be able to start practising,” general manager Jay Feaster told CalgaryFlames.com. “We expect him here for the opening of camp . . . and he’ll go through his physical exam at that time with our doctors. He’ll bring with him all of the paperwork he has from the treatment he has been receiving in the Czech Republic. Ultimately, our doctors will make a determination as to whether he’s fully able to participate or whether he has limited participation.”
In May, the Flames signed the European star to one-year deal worth $3.78 million.
Also not yet skating in Calgary are Jiri Hudler, Alex Tanguay, Anton Babchuk, Steve Begin, Matt Stajan, Blake Comeau, Tim Jackman, Mikael Backlund.
Making a guest appearance Tuesday morning, however, had been former Flames winger Rene Bourque, now of the Montreal Canadiens.
ODDS STACKED AGAINST FLAMES
Only two teams have worse odds than the Flames of winning the Stanley Cup.
The Calgarians’ chances of capturing the NHL crown, according to Bodog.com, are set at 50-1. Only the New York Islanders (66-1) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (100-1) are longer shots.
Favourites include Pittsburgh Penguins (8-1), New York Rangers (17-2), Vancouver Canucks (9-1), Los Angeles Kings (12-1), Philadelphia Flyers (12-1).
The Edmonton Oilers, at 25-1, are rated 14th best.
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