I feel, personally, my game is at a level that it’s never been at before, just with my comfort level of taking pucks to the net, in front of the net, working pucks down low. I think that’s really come a long way. - Joe Colborne
CALGARY, AB -- Tensions have been eased for Joe Colborne.
And in that, he’s never been more productive in his work.
With his name being bandied about at the NHL Trade Deadline late last month, doubled with the idea that the pending restricted free agent is sans contract at the end of the year, the forward knew leaving his hometown Calgary Flames was a possibility.
Conversations were had.
And reassurance came.
“I think they’ve been kicking tires, I guess,” said Colborne of a potential new contract between he and the team he’s suited up for the past three seasons. “They’ve been talking a little bit as the trade deadline came up. There are quite a few guys they’ve got to take care of … Mony and Johnny, get those guys. For me, I’m a guy that I would love to be here for many years to come. It’s something that I’ll let my agent and management take care of. I’m just worried about what’s going on in here.”
The talks might’ve taken some edge off the 6-foot-5 forward who has been in, and out, up, and down, the lineup this season.
“I hope so. It just kind of shows that they see the improvements, they see the way my game’s progressing, and obviously they see some positives in that,” Colborne said. “The numbers have shown it, but I think a lot of what the numbers don’t show is what I’m most proud of.”
They haven’t gone unnoticed.
“For Joe, he’s been fairly consistent, especially for the last three months where you say he’s doing good things,” Flames assistant general manager Craig Conroy said. “I think he’s been bounced around on different lines earlier. He’s going to the net. He’s protecting pucks well. He’s got confidence with the puck. I think early on at times that’s where instead he would just take his time and make the play, he was overthinking it and overhandling it. Now he’s keeping it simple.”
Keeping it simple.
Taking it to new heights, too.
Statistically, Colborne is at his best.
At 16 goals, Colborne has established a career high. With 33 points, a new personal best has been reached, too.
“I feel, personally, my game is at a level that it’s never been at before, just with my comfort level of taking pucks to the net, in front of the net, working pucks down low. I think that’s really come a long way. Physically, I think I’ve been able to be more of an option and more of a force out there. I’m having fun.”
It hasn’t always been, though.
Colborne’s sat as a healthy scratch on more than one occasion.
And he’s still managed career-best digits.
“When you get success, too, then you start feeling better about yourself,” Conroy said. “The goals are coming; the points are coming. You’re not pressing. That’s a big part of his game. He knows, mentally, he can do it and he’s going to do it every night and he comes to play hard every night. That’s all you can ask from him. He’s really picked his game up, especially the past month.”
But how much room does Colborne, now 26, still have to improve?
“I think I’ve still got a ways to go,” he said. “I think that’s what drives me and why I’m looking forward to having a good summer ahead. Last summer, it sucked with being in a cast all summer and coming back and not really being quite 100 percent at camp. On the flip side, that really let me focus on leg strength and core strength. I think that ended up helping me a ton, too.
“Now I’m looking forward to getting another great summer in and coming back and continue to push the envelope and grow as a player.”
He hopes to do so as a member of the Flames.
Colborne may get his wish.
“Moving forward, he needs a contract this year so that’ll be something we’re going to deal with as the season winds down,” Conroy said. “Brad (Treliving) and Brad (Pascall) will talk to him and talk to his agent and start working on that.”
Another sense of assurance for Colborne.