Absolutely, I love it here. It's an awesome city. I've always compared it to Denver. I went to college there and have great memories there. I get a similar sense as far as the city, the climate.
- Chris Butler
CALGARY, AB -- Chris Butler doesn't exactly know where he's going, he just knows where he wants to end up.
Back in Calgary.
Butler is set to become a restricted free agent but didn't waver when declaring his initial intention was to return to the Calgary Flames.
"Absolutely, I love it here," Butler said on locker clean-out day. "It's an awesome city. I've always compared it to Denver. I went to college there and have great memories there. I get a similar sense as far as the city, the climate.
"The fans are great here. We haven't really given them much to cheer about the last couple years."
The veteran of 267 career National Hockey League games has been through free agency once before. Coming off an entry level deal in 2011, the then 24-year-old re-upped with the Flames after Calgary acquired his rights in the deal that sent he and Paul Byron to the Flames in exchange for Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a 2nd round selection in 2012.
Now 26, he admitted more weighs on his mind this time around.
"I think as you get older, you start having more responsibilities and you start thinking more family oriented and things like that," said Butler, poised to represent the United States in the 2013 IIHF World Championship for a second consecutive year. "As far as the whole contract negotiation stuff, I don't pay too much attention to that stuff. We'll sit down and probably have a meeting, maybe after the Worlds, and discuss where we think my career path is headed and the direction that this organization's going and we'll go from there."
If the Flames already know which direction they plan on moving in regards to the 6-foot-1, 196-pound rearguard, they haven't told him.
"I have no idea to be as honest as I can," Butler said. "I told my agent before the season started with it being a goofy half-season and knowing I was restricted after the year, I just said I don't want to talk about that stuff during the season and I don't want it to be a distraction. I don't know if they've had any conversations, good, bad or indifferent so we'll probably discuss that after the World's are over."
If the organization plans to keep Butler around, the former fourth round pick from 2005 has no problem playing through a re-tool.
Though he's only got parts of five NHL seasons under his belt, Butler relished the thought of playing the role of mentor should the Flames be looking at a dramatically younger group on the blueline next season.
"It's a lot of fun having that responsibility placed on you," he said. "I never considered myself an older guy this year then at the end of the year all of a sudden you're looking around, you kind of realize you're older than everyone else around.
"It's fun to kind of talk to those guys and try and help them and teach them about being a professional and how to handle yourself off the ice and away from the rink, too. It's something that I need to take a bigger role on now that it seems like we're heading into the direction of having a younger team."
As for his own direction, Butler hopes his route to the rink doesn't change.