I’d like to spend the next 10 to 12 years here. I’d love to be part of the group that brings a Stanley Cup back. - Joe Colborne
CALGARY, AB -- Big Joe Colborne, a pending restricted free agent, says if it was up to him he would be staying put.
And, really, why wouldn’t he feel that way?
The 26-year-old hometown product has the honour of donning the Flaming C – the team he grew up worshiping -- in front of a healthy throng of family friends on a regular basis.
“Oh yeah,” said the easy going Colborne. “I’d like to spend the next 10 to 12 years here. I’d love to be part of the group that brings a Stanley Cup back.”
Well, that answers that -- Joe wants to stay.
And, better yet, win.
Only it may not be that easy, due to the fact there is a good new-bad news scenario that surrounds the former Edge School standout.
In his third season with the Flames, Colborne enjoyed a breakout season by posting career highs in goals (19), assists (25) and points (44).
That's the good news.
“I just think confidence-wise, it was huge,” said Colborne, whose scorching hot final 35-game stretch saw him notch 15 goals and 29 points. “I thought I came into my strength and my offseason commitments have really started to pay off. My comfort level as a guy who can go to the front of the net, win battles, go to the corners and control the puck has started to come to fruition.”
Now for the bad news.
In a tight-strapped salary cap world, Colborne’s career-high numbers may put Flames brass – with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, among others, to negotiate with this summer -- in a tough spot.
“We have some contracts and cap situations to deal with this summer, and we’ll deal with it in steps,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said. “The constant here is there is never a question in terms of resources to be successful. Our ownership is outstanding. You look at the investment that they put into this team this year. We went out and added some people, like the (Dougie) Hamiltons and the (Michael) Froliks. They’re committed to doing whatever they have to do to win. And that’s no different going into next year.”
An impressed Flames coach Bob Hartley heaped praise on his skilled winger.
“When I look at [Colborne]’s game it’s the progression that I see,” Hartley said. “Every day, every week, since the day we acquired him, his game is getting better and I think that his maturation process is getting better. This young man has unbelievable hockey sense. He understands the game, which is why we play him in every situation.”
Colborne says he’s not overly concerned with the lack of contract discussions due to Treliving and his agent J.P. Barry having a “very good relationship."
“I would like to get it done sooner rather than later, but I understand there are some other guys that will be getting pretty good raises here that are probably the most important thing for them to take care of,” said Colborne, who was able to avoid arbitration prior to the 2014-15 campaign when he inked a two-year deal with the Flames.
“Hopefully it’s not that hard,” he added. "But I understand it’s a business.”
He’s been down this road before.
After leading the Camrose Kodiaks to back-to-back Alberta Junior Hockey League titles, the Boston Bruins made the 2008 Canadian Junior A Hockey League Player of the Year a first round (16th overall) selection -- the highest AJHL player ever selected, in fact.
The highly-sought after prospect, however, wouldn’t play a single game for the black and gold.
Instead, the Bruins dealt Colborne to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he would play parts of three seasons before landing with his hometown Flames for the 2013-14 season.
“I’ve been traded twice, so I know what that’s like,” he said. “You learn pretty quickly that you’re a commodity that can be dealt. I’m just hoping that we can figure something out. You look at the nucleus we have and it’s an exciting team to be a part of and I’m hoping to be a big part of it.”
Even if that entails the 6-foot-5, 221-pound winger -- the biggest body among the Flames forward group -- signing a long-term deal.
“I’d love to,” said Colborne, who for the third straight season was the recipient of the organization’s Peter Maher Good Guy Award, presented annually to the Flames player that best demonstrates sincerity, integrity, dedication and respect.
“This is home for me. I think we have a great group of guys, we have a great leader (captain Mark Giordano) for the next six years. Then we’ve got Johnny, [Monahan], [Sam Bennett], we’ve got some great young guys. This is a team that I’d like to be part of for a long time.”
In addition to Colborne, Gaudreau and Monahan, the Flames’ RFA list is also comprised of goaltenders Joni Ortio and Kevin Poulin, forwards Bill Arnold, Bryce Van Brabant, Kenny Agostino, Turner Elson, Freddie Hamilton, Josh Jooris, Drew Shore, and defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon.