I'm on cloud nine playing for this team. - Joe Colborne
CALGARY, AB -- Since about 10:00 PM last night, Joe Colborne's phone has been blowing up.
Friends and family members have been trying to get in touch with the pivot to talk about the trade that has him back in his hometown and he hasn't been able to keep up with the well-wishes and messages.
"Every time I turn on my phone, I have about 10 to 15 new texts. I haven't gotten back to about three quarters of the people. It's awesome.
"I'm going to have figure out a way to distance myself from a lot of people here and stay focused on hockey in the next little while because it's going to be a pretty big whirlwind in the next few days."
That whirlwind has already begun for the 23-year-old.
He arrived in Calgary just after 11:00 AM on Sunday morning and will meet with hockey operations, the coaching staff and his new teammates over the next 24 hours. He'll run through video with head coach Bob Hartley and his cohorts to get him up to speed on what they expect of their charges.
On Tuesday, he'll hit the ice with the Flames before heading off to Washington, DC to prepare for the season opener against the Capitals on Thursday night.
That's an extremely hectic pace for someone who is trying not only adjust to a new team and a new style of play but also establish himself as a full-time NHLer this season. However, the adrenaline and excitement over being dealt to his hometown team appears to have dissolved most of the nerves.
"I've already talked to coach and to Mr. Feaster. It's an opportunity I'm looking forward to grabbing and running with. It's a dream come true for me and I'm so excited to be here. Mark Giordano's already texted and Gali (TJ Galiardi) has texted me - I've known him for awhile - I think it's going to be a pretty easy transition. There seems to be a lot of excitement among the guys to get the organization moving in the right direction, that we want. Having Brian (Burke) here is a good first step. He's done it many times before and Mr. Feaster has done a great job in Tampa.
"It's an organization that's going to have a lot of excitement coming around in the next few years."
Colborne, who drafted 16th overall in 2008 by the Boston Bruins, feels there is a lot of opportunity to grow his game and produce more in Calgary than there was for him in Toronto. The Flames haven't shied away from saying they would like to get bigger - especially at centre ice - and he anticipates having more ice time in Calgary than he would have had with the Leafs this year.
"You realize there are a lot of centremen in Toronto and you can kind of do the math yourself. You see the roles that they wanted me to play and I think I'll be able to step in and hopefully have a bigger role here - maybe go out and show ... I can do more."
The Flames share Colborne's belief that he's ready to take the next step in his career and see him fitting in as an NHL regular this season.
"Otherwise we don't do the deal because he's guy who requires waivers to go down," general manager Jay Feaster said on Sunday morning. "If we didn't think he was ready to play and play on regular basis and be here, we wouldn't have traded for him.
"He's a big body, he skates very well. He's a guy who is good on face-offs. We think that he can slot in to be a very effective third line centre iceman for us but at the same time, he has enough skill to play in your top-six too. We believe he's versatile."
Colborne has a lot to look forward to this year but one moment that may be the biggest, most memorable occasion this season is just one week away. He has never played a game at the Scotiabank Saddledome and will finally have that opportunity on Sunday when the Flames host the Vancouver Canucks in the home opener (6:00 PM MST, Sportsnet West & Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
"I played one time when I was about six years old and we came out in between periods," he grinned. "Everyone is just following the puck around. You remember that. I remember meeting Jarome (Iginla) when he was a rookie. Those memories are the things that excite me and get me going.
"I'm on cloud nine playing for this team."