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A fresh start

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
CALGARY, AB -- When Lee Stempniak headed off to the dentist on Monday afternoon, being traded was the last thing on his mind.

"It was definitely a surprise," Stempniak told "I saw I missed a call from my agent and my brother called me right after. He said he had heard I had been traded to Calgary and he asked if I had heard anything."

The 28 year-old had no idea whether the story was true or not so he immediately called his agent who informed him he was indeed dealt the Flames. After playing in Toronto and getting acquainted with Canadian hockey media, he knew he would be swarmed for interviews as soon as the trade became official so he hurried into the dentist office, got through his procedure and then waited for his phone to blow up.

"I've got a few (interviews) to get through," he chuckled. "I'm really excited. I spoke with Jay Feaster and I'm really excited. I think it's a great organization. I have heard nothing but great things about the city and I really like the team. I'm really happy to be joining the team and having a successful season."

Feaster said that he believes Stempniak can be a top-six player for the club and expects him to compete for a spot in that group during training camp. The West Seneca, NY native agrees with that assessment, saying he's coming into training camp ready to compete for one of those spots.

"As a player, you wanted to be counted on. You want to be a guy that is relied upon and make a difference every night. For me, I believe in myself. I want to go into training camp and have great training camp. I want to be a guy that's put in that position and make the most out of my opportunity."

After playing in Phoenix for just over a year, Stempniak is extremely pleased to be back in a hockey market.

"You want to play in a place where hockey matters," he asserted. "You love being in a market like that. That was one of things I really enjoyed in Toronto. Being there and knowing the whole city cared about hockey.

"I've always liked playing in Calgary for that reason. There's a buzz in the city when the Flames are playing."

The pressure placed on Stempniak to perform will be intense and will be immediate. As soon as he laces up for his first game as a Flame, his play will be judged by the city at large. Given his time with the Maple Leafs, he knows just how under the microscope players feel in such markets but he's completely comfortable with that.

"It comes with the territory. I put the most pressure on myself to be successful. I set high expectations of myself. I don't really rely on the outside pressure from fans or media to perform but at the same time, I'm thrilled to be playing in a hockey market that is as passionate as Calgary is."

Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson
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