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Colborne rejuvenated since new year

by Andrew Halipchuk / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB - During Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames forward Joe Colborne registered his 10th point in the past 13 games.

The rookie forward's second period marker brought his season total to eight goals in his first campaign with the Flames.

"Joe’s progression is pretty awesome," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "He is a young man who is fun to work with, listens, has a great attitude and shows up to work with great intentions."

CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24: Joe Colborne #8 of the Calgary Flames skates against Michael Del Zotto #18 of the Nashville Predators at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2014 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

Colborne attributes much of that progression to his teammates.

"I feel real comfortable out there, a lot of that comes from playing with some good players," he said following Calgary's 3-1 win over the Sabres, the club's ninth victory in the past 11 games at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Colborne, who joined the Flames in late September after being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs, has scored eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 67 games with his hometown team.

The Flames sent a conditional fourth-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Draft to the Maple Leafs in exchange for the 24-year-old.

It's been a great fit for both team and player.

“I grew up idolizing the Flames and the players on the team,” Colborne said. “To now get a chance to play for them [the Flames] and solidify myself as player for them is really special.”

After starting the season with nine points in 2013, Colborne has heightened his play in the New Year, adding five goals and nine assists since the calendar turned to January.

Colborne credits growing as player, getting the chance to play and playing with some talented players as the reason for his recent string of success.

Since mid-January, the former first-round pick of the Boston Bruins has found a spot on the right wing a line alongside fellow rookie Sean Monahan and Mike Cammalleri, despite being a centre for most of his career.

"Success in a position change comes from playing with good players,” Colborne said. "It’s easy to build chemistry with a guy like that [Monahan],” he said. “When we’re playing with a guy like Cammy, [chemistry] comes pretty easy."

Colborne was first traded to the Maple Leafs alongside a pair of draft picks by the Boston Bruins in exchange for defenceman Tomas Kaberle before coming to Calgary.

Having already been traded once helped prepare him for the shock of moving a second time.

"It was a little less of a surprise this time [being traded], they had a bunch of depth down the middle in Toronto,” Colborne said. “I had no idea where I was going to go but when I heard it was Calgary, it was a pretty special thing.”

Flames President of Hockey Operations and interim general manager Brian Burke was serving as the general manager of Toronto when the Leafs acquired Colborne in 2011. When Burke joined the Flames front office early September 2013, Colborne came to Calgary less than a month later.

”I have the utmost respect for Brian, I think he is one of the smartest hockey minds in the game,” Colborne said. “The fact that he likes me, and that I know he’s in my corner means a lot to me.

“He’ll go to bat for every player on this team,” he said. “It’s an honour to play for his teams.”

Colborne has also been a prolific shootout scorer, scoring four goals on seven attempts for a 57.1 per cent success rate, and scoring one game deciding goal this season.

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