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Back to the future

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
. Alex Tanguay's hockey travels have brought him back to Calgary -- the place where he had his career-best season.

That was back in 2006-07 season when Tanguay teamed for most of the season with Flames captain Jarome Iginla and talied 81 points, including 22 goals and 59 assists.

Tanguay, 30, signed a one-year deal with the Flames as the free agent season opened on Thursday. The deal is for a reported $1.7 million.

So the burning question is whether or not Tanguay can rejuvenate the magic from his 2006-07 season in Calgary.

"I feel like I have some unfinished business in Calgary," Tanguay said shortly after signing with the Flames. "I am very excited. It's a great opportunity. When I sat down at the end of the season where I saw myself fit on a team Calgary was at the top of the list. So when they came calling I took the deal."

He followed up that season with 58 points and never seemed to settle in under then coach Mike Keenan, eventually requesting a trade. He was dealt to Montreal at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in a move that allowed the Flames to draft Greg Nemisz in the first round. The Flames initially acquired Tanguay in a draft day deal from Colorado in 2006. His previous best season had produced 79 points with a high-powered Avs offence.

Tanguay explained that Keenan put him in a role that he was not comfortable with in his final season in Calgary.

"I felt the role that Mr. Keenan gave me didn't give me the chance to earn my money," said Tanguay. "It was never about Calgary. It was never about the team. It was being used as a penalty-killer and in a defensive role."

Tanguay, a St. Justine, Que., native, had an injury-shortened season in Montreal, tallying 41 points in 50 games with the Habs.  He was, essentially, on a point-per-game pace until he injured his shoulder and missed 30 games.

Last season he moved to Tampa Bay and struggled offensively. He had 10 goals and 27 assists with the Lightning before becoming an unrestricted free agent. That's a season he would just as soon forget.

"I thought I was going into a situation there where I could produce offensively and that never happened," he said. "Last year was a difficult season for me. There are a lot of people that are doubting my ability."

Tanguay intends to prove those doubters wrong.

"I've got a lot ot prove. I am 30. Physically I feel I have lots left. I didn't hesitate when Calgary called. I jumped at the deal right away. It wasn't about the money. It was about the opportunity. They have the belief in me that I can help them out."

It is important to note that the last time Tanguay was in Calgary he was making $5.5 million so this new deal seems like quite a bargain if he can come anywhere close to his previous production in Cowtown.

Tanguay remains friends with Iginla and the pair spoke Thursday.

"We spoke today and Jarome was very excited and so am I," said Tanguay.

However, he is not insistent on playing with Iginla.

"Absolutely not. There are a lot of players there that are v ery gifted. I don't know who I am going to play with but there are lost of good players to play with. There are lots of good possibilities. I think I can help them and they are such good players they can certainly help me," said Tanguay.

The left-winger has won a Stanley Cup and, through 739 games in the NHL, he has 617 points, including 203 goals.

And he is not worried about coming back to Calgary, despite being traded from here before.

"It will be an easy transition. I have a lot of friends there and I know the city," said Tanguay. "After Calgary and Montreal it is certainly an adjustment and different mindset when you go and play hockey in Florida. I am looking forward to the Flames fans. They were nothing but great when I was there."

If Alex Tanguay steps into the Flames line-up and provides some offensive punch, we're guessing the relationship will again be a happy one.
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