NEW YORK, NY --
For winger Blake Comeau
, returning to Long Island is a bittersweet experience.
The Meadow Lake, SK native started his NHL career with the Islanders, being drafted in the second round (47th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, and set career highs with the organization last season when he amassed 24 goals and 46 points.
"I have a lot of good memories in New York," he said. "My first goal. My first game. The friendships that I made there."
However, his progression appeared to come to a screeching halt at the beginning of this season. He was held pointless through his first 16 games of the year and earned a minus-11 rating in the process. Comeau sat as a healthy scratch after just two games into the season, something he still is a bit confused about.
"It didn't seem there was really any reason that they could say why I was in the stands. I just felt this year I wasn't sure what my role was - I wasn't sure if there was even room for me to have a role on the team."
New York opted to put the forward on waivers but Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster snatched him before any other team had the chance, stating he believed the 25 year-old just needed a change of scenery in order to get his career back in order.
"Obviously when you get put on waivers, it's a humbling experience," he said. "I feel like there's a little extra motivation for myself when I go back to Long Island. To maybe show some people here that I have a lot to offer."
It turns out Calgary was the perfect fit for Comeau. He has flourished with the Flames, picking up two goals and five points in 17 games played. He’s currently playing alongside rookies Roman Horak and Paul Byron
, giving the youngsters a steady presence to learn from as they develop.
"I'm glad I'm in Calgary. I'm a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and this was a fresh start for me.
"The coaching staff obviously has shown a lot of confidence in me. As a player, that allows you to play with more confidence as well."
The forward has been particularly impressed with the communication between him, his new bench boss Brent Sutter and the rest of the coaching staff. The Islanders underwent a coaching change while he was with them and he felt he lost that ever-important communication between himself and his coaching staff.
"I know where I stand and I know what I need to do to play well and what my role is," he smiled. "That's all you can ask for."
The timing for Comeau's return to the Island couldn't be better. The Flames are riding a four-game winning streak and toppled some of the League's best squads this past week. The Islanders are mired in quite the slump. They are knocking on the NHL's basement door and sit dead last in the Eastern Conference with a 11-17-6 record.
Comeau has looked particularly dangerous in his last few games, registering nine shots in his three games and creating havoc in the offensive zone with his speed and grit. If he plays that way on Thursday night, there is a good chance he'll be able to put one in the back of the net in his old stomping grounds.
"I've been getting my chances. I've been getting a lot of shots and that's something I want to do, try to get as many shots on net as a I can and give myself the best chance to start scoring some goals."