ANAHEIM - Bob Hartley confirmed the rumours at the end of the pre-game skate Friday morning at the Honda Center.
Sven Baertschi, the top prospect in the Calgary Flames organization, will indeed take a seat in the press box tonight and watch his team take on the Anaheim Ducks.
“Sven tonight, he’s a healthy scratch,” the head coach said. “The Ducks are a big team, and I want the biggest possible team in the lineup.”
So Steve Begin draws in, and Baertschi steps back in the latest brush with adversity for the first round pick (13th overall) of the Flames in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
In 10 games this season, Baertschi has no goals and just one assist.
“He’s a very young player,” Hartley said. “He a lot to offer but at the same time, he has a lot to learn.
“It’s not the first time a young kid is getting scratched, and it won’t be the last time.”
The first time is never easy.
“I’m going to talk to Sven this afternoon more in detail about the reasons he’s not in the lineup,” Hartley said just before boarding the bus back to the team hotel. “I shouldn’t say the reasons why he’s in the lineup, it should be the reasons why he’s going to be a full-time NHL player.
“That’s why it’s part of the learning process. It’s nothing bad. He’s a 20-year-old kid.”
This 20-year-old kid suffered a head/neck injury at the beginning of December in Abbotsford and proceeded to miss a month. He then sat out 11 games in Calgary with hip-flexor issues.
“He had a concussion in Abbotsford,” Hartley said. “It’s not an excuse. He’s fully recovered. But he missed a lot of time. He just came back on time with our training camp, so for me, he’s taking steps and that’s part of a young man growing in the NHL.”
His growth in the NHL could include a step back to the AHL with Mikael Backlund skating Friday for the first time without a yellow jersey, meaning he is cleared for contact.
Backlund could draw into the lineup as early as Saturday in Los Angeles.
“Conditioning-wise, game-wise, I think he’s ready to go,” Hartley said. “He just needs the green light from the doctors.”
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