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"EXTREMELY HARD-WORKING IN THE NET"

Flames coach sings praises of team's new netminder

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

Now Glen Gulutzan isn't one to be tattling out of school, understand …

"Sure, I'll tell you an Eddie Lack story,'' acquiesces the Flames coach, all conspiratorial mischief, from his summer cottage on Fishing Lake, Saskatchewan.

"And he's going to be mad when I do.

"He's going to say I'm lying.

"When he got on his run in 2015 - check his numbers, I think he played 48 (41) games, had a .921 save percentage and was a big, big factor in our making the playoffs in Vancouver - he'd always want me to take a shootout shot against him after he'd done his work in the (morning) skate with Rollie Melanson.

"That became a ritual, our routine.

"So I'd take one or two shots against him."

Pause.

"And I scored quite a bit."

Further pause.

"You can decide if I'm lying or not."

(Hint: Gulutzan happily admits he was, indeed, fibbing).

Not that Eddie the Entertainer isn't used to a good deal of give-and-take ribbing.

"He's just a real fun-loving guy,'' praises Gulutzan. "Enjoys life. A great person in the community, working with charities.

"Very outgoing.

"But extremely hard-working in the net. Probably one of the top guys I've seen in that regard. He's going to be a good fit with Smitty (Mike Smith).

"Eddie keeps it very loose but when it comes time the guys on his team love his compete."

Lack's nickname is The Stork, owing to an outsized 6-foot-5-inch frame ("He's got no true definition to his legs. He looks like a stork," once quipped Wendel Clark, then general manager for the Chicago Wolves, where Lack was playing at the time).

Within hours of learning of his trade to Calgary from Carolina on Thursday - while on his honeymoon in the south of Italy - he was busy tweeting old pictures of himself in an orange styrofoam Chicago Bulls' cowboy hat as a tip of the top to Calgary's western heritage and a GIF of himself, mask-less, in Canucks' livery taking a mighty whack at a Flame crease-interloper's backside, with apologies.

"I don't know Eddie,'' confesses Calgary GM Brad Treliving. "I've heard a lot from Gully. I talked to (Lack) at length this morning.

"He's in Italy. Just got married. So he's had a busy couple of days.

"Really fun-loving guy. Great personality. I think he'll be a pleasure for you guys.

"But he's a serious worker. I've gotten a lot of calls, a lot of texts after we made the deal from people who know Eddie and they all talk about the quality person he is.

"We want him to be a good man. We want him to be a good goalie. We want him to stop some pucks.

"But I think we're adding character."

For the Flames, adding a veteran presence like Lack is obviously a boon. And the fact the 'Canes are ingesting 50% of Lack's $3-million salary for the coming season certainly does help out on the ledger sheet.

"A big part of the deal with Eddie,'' admits Treliving, "is the retention. He came in at a number we felt comfortable with.

"The one thing that was apparent, there was a lot of activity in the goaltender market. You got a sense of where prices might be going.

"You do the evaluation of the goaltender but obviously the deal doesn't get done if there's not the economic component."

With the July 1st free-agency free-for-all set to be unleashed, the Flames are quite happy with their lot between the pipes, allowing Treliving - having some cap space to work with - to perhaps add defence depth or scoring help on right wing.

The net is well tended with Smith and Lack entrenched here for the moment, Jon Gillies and David Rittich understating in Stockton and Tyler Parsons out there on the horizon, sometime.

In making the move after two seasons in Raleigh, N.C., Lack is hoping to recapture the form he displayed as a Canuck.

"You do your homework and trust in your staff,'' says Treliving. "Having inside knowledge, coming in and working with Jordan (Sigalet) will be good for him.

"Eddie's a big goaltender. You look at the way he played in Vancouver from a style standpoint, he's a guy that plays deep in the paint. I think there was a push for him to change his style the last couple years.

"A big, athletic goaltender. We still think there's upside there."

 

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