Some of us that were here the last two years tried to help the guys to have some fun, crack some jokes. Those are things that are huge for first year guys. - Sven Baertschi
CALGARY, AB -- A few years ago, Sven Baertschi stepped onto the ice at his first Calgary Flames development camp with hordes of butterflies in his stomach.
The pressure was on; he was the Flames first round pick in 2011 and he knew expectations were high. He was extremely nervous but several "veterans" at camp came to his aid.
"I had guys like Lance Bouma, TJ Brodie, Greg Nemisz; they were helping me with everything. Coming in isn't easy, your first year," he said after Monday's scrimmage at WinSport.
Now, well into his third development camp, he is acting as a mentor to first-year players. He helps them during drills, chats with them between whistles and tries to keep the atmosphere as relaxed as possible.
"Some of us that were here the last two years tried to help the guys to have some fun, crack some jokes," he explained. "Those are things that are huge for first year guys."
He has also set an example for the newbies with his play during Saturday and Monday's scrimmages. In addition to being a dominant player offensively for Team Black, he has stuck up for his teammates when he felt anyone on Team Red crossed the line. On Saturday, he saw Tim Harrison throwing hits every chance he could and after he himself was the recipient of what he felt was a high hit, Baertschi nailed the 2013 draft pick with a cross-check.
"I saw him out there and he was kind of running around out there, hitting a lot of guys. For me, I don't like to see that and I definitely don't want anyone from my team to get hurt," he said. "One thing for me, for sure, was that I was trying to stick up for my teammate. He hit me really hard and then he goes to the next guy and hits the next guy really hard. His stick was up high in my face and the next guy ... his stick was up high.
"You don't want that to happen so you stick up for your teammates. I kind of hit him hard there but afterwards, I apologized and we're still friends."
Now that camp is winding down, Baertschi is setting his sights to main training camp in the fall. While the expectation is the Swiss winger will be a regular in the Flames lineup next season, he knows he has just 25 NHL games under his belt and that he won't just be handed a spot. He has been training during the off-season but after camp concludes, he is going to ramp up his summer regimen to ensure he is as prepared as possible for the 2013-14 season.
"For me, it's going to be similar to last year. I've got to make sure I get my spot. As a player, you never want to give up your spot. Last year, I got sent down. With that, I gave up a spot. I don't want that to happen again.
"I've been working really hard this summer ... I'm looking forward to main camp. I want to make sure I'm ready to go."