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A GREAT FIT

After speaking with Brad Treliving and Bill Peters, Austin Czarnik knew he wanted to sign in Calgary

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Heading east recently, Brad Treliving and Bill Peters were in the mood to pitch a little tag-team woo.

And the four-hour flight ended up being so worth it.

On Day One of unrestricted free-agency they were rewarded with an emphatic: "I do."

"We had the meeting at a downtown restaurant in Detroit,'' reported free-agent target Austin Czarnik, who drove in to Motor City from home in nearby Birmingham, Mi. "Last Tuesday.

"It was just nice to have them in front of me, telling me where they saw me, how I fit into their plan.

"They made that effort. They showed they were interested.

"You want to be wanted.

"They gave me a real good feel for the organization and the city, so I felt this was right. The system Bill Peters wants - fast-paced - fits the way I play.

"For me, I want a place to best show what kind of player I am. I feel like I've been successful at the AHL level. I think I'm ready for the next stage."

Sunday, the going-out-of-their-way personal touch put in by the Flames GM and incoming head coach paid off, Czarnik agreeing to a two-year deal to switch organizations.

"We think (he's) the best secret everybody knew,'' said Treliving of the 25-year-old centre/right winger. "He may not have been a household name but he talked to 23 teams.

Video: Brad Treliving talks about the team's signings

"So there was a lot of interest in him.

"When you're going through that process with a player you really like we wanted to make sure he knew exactly about us, about the opportunity here.

"Bill did a tremendous job looking at tape of Austin for the last month prior to the courting period, the free agency period.

"We've done a lot of homework on him, going back to his days at Miami (CCHA Redhawks).

"Knowing there was a lot of interest in the player we wanted to put our best foot forward."

In 10 games topside with the NHL Boston Bruins last season, Czarnik was credited with four helpers. The bulk of his work for B's AHL affiliate in Providence, R.I., where he left his mark, piling up 69 points in 64 games.

Through 59 appearances for the Bruins over two seasons, Czarnik contributed five goals and 19 points.

"Austin's a guy we're very excited to get,'' emphasized Treliving. "He was third in the American Hockey League in scoring. Following a bit of a 'theme', he's a right shot. If you ask Austin his natural position is probably centre. He's played some wing. We project him right now on the wing.

"He brings speed, talent and scoring ability."

Czarnik can't wait to get started, to try and fulfil a destiny he's always seem for himself.

"Last year,'' he's willing to confess, "was hard for me. I only played the 10 games in Boston and the waiver thing was really tricky for them. So I don't blame them. They had to do what they had to do.

"They have a strong team. Those first two or three lines, it's tough for a young guy to get in there and be effective.

"But in Calgary, I think there's a great opportunity to do just that on the right side.

"All I want to do is be an everyday NHLer. I want to be a staple for a team. That's been my goal from the start and I'm going to keep going until I reach that.

"I want another challenge.

"It's a really important decision I had to make.

"And I think I chose the right place to get where I want to be."

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