They're going from one level of hockey to a completely different level of hockey. I won't be surprised if they're standing around staring at the traffic and trying to figure out how to merge - Brian Burke
CALGARY, AB -- Temper those expectations, please.
At least, that’s what Calgary Flames president of hockey operations and interim general manager Brian Burke hopes for in advance of Sunday’s NHL debuts for freshly signed Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau.
After all, the boys from Boston College haven’t even skated a shift in the National Hockey League.
“I don't expect much,” Burke said via conference call from Victoria, BC just prior to puck drop in Calgary’s 5-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. “It’s hard. They're going from one level of hockey to a completely different level of hockey. I won't be surprised if they're standing around staring at the traffic and trying to figure out how to merge. It's not unusual in a kid's first game for them to be star-struck and wait too long to do things.”
Forty-eight hours after signing entry-level deals in Philadelphia, Arnold and Gaudreau were whisked off to meet up with new teammates in Calgary before the Flames shuttle off to play their season finale on Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks.
Both are coming off storied careers at Boston College.
The 21-year-old Arnold, a fourth round pick (No. 108) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, capped off his four-year collegiate career by finishing sixth in the nation with 53 points in 40 games.
Not to be outdone, Gaudreau a fourth round pick (No. 104) in 2011, capped off his storybook season by winning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as top US college hockey player. The 20-year-old led the country with 36 goals and 44 assists and became the first player to reach the 80-point plateau since Colorado College’s Peter Sejna hit 82 in 2002-03.
His 31-game point streak tied Paul Kariya’s NCAA record and helped earn Gaudreau the Hockey East Player of the Year Award, Walter Brown Award, Leonard Fowle Award, and Herb Gallagher Award.
Their resumes, however, don’t dictate the amount of pressure the Flames are planning on putting on the pair.
“We're not putting a lot of pressure on these guys,” Burke said. “They're taking training camp numbers, just like any other young player. The way we do it in Calgary now is you have your training camp number and you keep that training camp number until you make the team. That might not be until the 20th, 25th or 30th game of the season, and the coach says you're here for the rest of the year, and then you get a proper number.”
Until then, Gaudreau will sport the No. 53 he had at prospects camp last July. Similarly, Arnold will wear No. 46 in his debut.
“What I'm trying to do is be realistic here,” Burke said. “These are two young men that have a good chance at being good NHL players, but they've got some work to do. They're not going to be handed anything.”