CALGARY -- Krys Kolanos has waited nearly three years for another opportunity – two years, 10 months and 4 days to be exact.
After signing a two-year, two-way contract Wednesday with the Calgary Flames, Kolanos was one step closer to returning to National Hockey League ice.
That step will be taken Friday night.
Kolanos, whose last NHL outing came on March 31, 2009, as a member of the Minnesota Wild, will draw into the Flames lineup Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Saddledome.
“I feel very blessed and very thankful,” Kolanos said. “I’ve worked hard for a second opportunity. It’s been a long process, no question. Never in my mind did I doubt that I’d make this step and then keep it going.”
Kolanos was summoned by Flames general manager Jay Feaster after learning forward Lee Stempniak would be lost for an indeterminate amount of time with a lower-body injury.
That is a bit ironic, considering Kolanos’ journey almost ended in part to what would be considered a lower-body injury. Kolanos missed half of the 2009-10 season and all of 2010-11 recovering from micro-fracture surgery on his hip nearly two years ago.
“It was a five-hour surgery so it was pretty major,” Kolanos said. “The doctor did a great job in Nashville and he said ‘if you stay with the process and work every day over that time period, there’d be a good chance’. I was able to do that so I’m very grateful for that.”
It was perseverance in the face of adversity that fueled Kolanos’ comeback.
He joined the Abbotsford Heat – Calgary’s American Hockey League affiliate – in September on a professional tryout basis. After earning AHL All-Star honors with 18 goals and 40 points in 34 games, the Flames decided the Calgary native had done enough to warrant a contract.
“It was about a 22-month process coming into this season,” Kolanos said. “It was definitely something I had to stay patient with and stay disciplined with through the whole thing to even get to this point.”
Current Flame and former Heat teammate, Lance Bouma, said it was nice to see Kolanos get a second lease on his hockey life.
“I think it’s huge for him,” Bouma said. “He’s battled through a lot of things over the past couple years.
He’s really worked hard to get back here and it shows a lot about him as a person that he’s been able to come back and get through all the stuff he was dealing with in his life. It’s exciting for him.”
Added Kolanos: “That word is an understatement. It’s been a very emotional time. It’s another step in the journey here for me.”
A step he is taking in his hometown, no less.
“It’s an unbelievable experience and feeling,” the Calgary product said. “I grew up a Flames fan and watched them win a Cup when I was eight years old. It just feels like it’s a part of me. It’s hard to describe.”
Make no mistake about it, Kolanos will have a lot of support. The former first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes will have a few supporters – to say the least – in the crowd tonight.
“It’ll be over 100, so it will be pretty big here tonight,” Kolanos said. “I’ve got a great support system here in town so it’s going to be really exciting to play in front of them.”
And accomplish the goal he set out for himself 22 months ago.