I’m a little lost for words to be honest. It’s a surreal feeling. I think the opportunity to play for the Calgary Flames has always been something I’ve dreamed of and for this to become reality is something special. - Mason Raymond
CALGARY, AB -- Mason Raymond is coming home.
Raymond will join the Calgary Flames after signing a three-year contract shortly after the free agency period opened Tuesday.
And there was no reason for the Cochrane, AB native to hesitate.
“I’m a little lost for words to be honest,” Raymond said. “It’s a surreal feeling. I think the opportunity to play for the Calgary Flames has always been something I’ve dreamed of and for this to become reality is something special.
“My wife and my son obviously have a huge impact on my life and my decision and what we decided. Ultimately, that was one of the biggest reasons why Calgary was such a good fit. Family is very important to me and something dear in my decision.”
Coming off a 10-goal, 22-point shortened 2012-13 season, Raymond expressed interest in joining Calgary last offseason.
But as an unrestricted free agent he and the Flames didn’t connect on a deal, much to Raymond’s disappointment.
“Last year was definitely an emotional time mentally,” the 28-year-old said. “Would I have loved it to happen? Sure, but I’m a believer that things do happen for a reason.
“It didn’t work out last year but I’m able to sit here today with a huge smile on my face and I’m so proud to say I’m going to be a member of the Calgary Flames.”
During the offseason, Calgary added locals Joe Colborne, TJ Galiardi, Kris Russell and Corban Knight. Raymond wasn’t one of them, leaving the 6-foot, 185-pound left-winger to seek out a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And after recording 19 goals and 45 points over 82 games in Toronto, Raymond did get his chance to come home.
“It was a good move for me to go to Toronto,” Raymond said. “I thank the Maple Leafs for everything they did for me and the opportunity I was given. It was. It was an opportunity for me to re-shape who I believe who I am, a guy that can do very good things. I hope to expand my role in Calgary as a player and as a person in the community.”
Having already played in Toronto and with the Vancouver Canucks, Raymond is used to the pressures of a Canadian market.
It’s helped prepare him for the pressures of playing at home, too.
“I’ve talked to many guys who have played at ‘home’ and for myself, I’ve played in Canada,” Raymond said. “I think I’ve played in one of the biggest markets in Toronto and Vancouver is no slouch either. There is pressure. It’s a performance business but as a player, you can take motivation from that.
“Wanting to perform every single night in front of ultimately your fans and people that you know, I embrace it. I embrace it as a challenge and one I look forward to taking on.”
To Raymond, the fit in Calgary contains no downside. Having grown up in the area, an opportunity to return to his roots made Calgary an attractive option.
His fit with new teammates played a factor, too.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to skate with a lot of the guys. I know the dressing room quite well because of the work stoppage,” Raymond said. “I love the direction the team is going. It’s a young team, an exciting team. I’m fortunate again to be back in a Canadian market where fans live and breathe the game of hockey is something that I enjoy playing in front of and wouldn’t want anything else.
“The whole honour of being able to put on a Calgary Flames jersey is something really special.”