People were coining us as rebuilding but I think we took that a step further and we were successful beyond what people expected and I think we can be even more successful. - Brandon Bollig
CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames surprised plenty of people in the 2014-15 season. Count forward Brandon Bollig among them.
Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks via a trade on the second day of the 2014 NHL Draft last June, Bollig might not have completely understood that the Flames, a team that had just finished 27th overall and had selected Sam Bennett with the highest pick in organizational history just 24 hours prior, were capable of such a big jump in the second season of a rebuild.
Colour him surprised.
“I was very surprised, very pleasantly surprised coming here from where I was,” said Bollig, who was just one year removed from winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks. “I couldn’t have expected too much by way of the postseason given where they ended up last year but it was exciting.
“It was a lot different feel coming from a place where you knew you were going to make the postseason to a place you had to battle and earn it…not that we didn’t there before but here there was that sense of unknown and it was exciting to shock a lot of people and do it in a city that hasn’t had playoffs in a long time and see how excited they were for us and run with it.
“We turned a lot of heads and changed a lot of minds and that was the most exciting part.”
Bollig had signed a three-year contract extension with Chicago just three months prior to the trade, one that “definitely came as a shock”, as he described on June 29th.
That shock continued.
“I wouldn’t have expected this, expected to come here this year,” he said. “That’s part of the business. I know it’s what we signed up for being a professional hockey player knowing you could switch cities at any moment. When I was traded, I had no clue what to expect. The first thing I did was look where Calgary ended up in the standings last year and then coming here in training camp, there was so much confidence and it was exciting and I’m like, ‘why not? Why can’t we do it’?”
Bollig joined a team that had just completed a 35-win season and missed the playoffs by 14 points. He’ll leave this summer knowing that Calgary’s 20-point gain was the highest jump in the Western Conference and third-highest League-wide.
It helped the Flames to not only make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six years, but advance beyond the first round for just the first time since 2004 and second time since winning the Cup in 1989.
“People were coining us as rebuilding but I think we took that a step further and we were successful beyond what people expected and I think we can be even more successful,” Bollig said. “It’s exciting to be a part of a team that’s trying to get to the level that my previous team was at. I couldn’t be more happy to be a part of getting there. It’s been great.
“There was so many times we could’ve shut it down and said we had a good try at it but we didn’t. There was so many times before we made the postseason when that could’ve happened. There were times during the postseason, in Round 1 and Round 2, but we kept fighting.
“The whole year we earned everything we got and that’s why it was so exciting for us. I’m excited to see what happens next year.”