CALGARY, AB -- Two seconds.
It took Micheal Ferland just two seconds into his first shift, hockey’s first shift, of the 2015-16 season to re-introduce himself to fans -- and foes -- of the Calgary Flames.
And he, tripping over the memory, couldn’t tell you whether he’d obliged an offer from the Vancouver Canucks’ Derek Dorsett, or initiated the donnybrook, that sent gloves scurrying away and fists flying.
Too in the moment to recall the moment.
“I don’t even really remember it,” Ferland says. “I can’t remember how the fans were. I was too in the zone.
“It was hockey.”
It was Micheal Ferland hockey.
It’s hard nosed. It’s in your face.
It’s 40 hits in the six-game playoff series against Vancouver last April, and it was six more in the season-opener. Tack on another four in Calgary’s first win of the season, Saturday against the Canucks, too.
It’s hardly irrelevant.
For some, it’s hardly scratching the surface, too.
“I think Ferland’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time,” Flames captain Mark Giordano hedges. “He gets it. He’s one of the guy;, he knows his role. In saying that, I don’t even think he’s scratched the surface. This kid is going to be unbelievable. I don’t think he gets enough credit for the skill that he possesses because he plays such a hard and rugged game.
“Watching him in practice, he’s got great hands, his shot, really a great player. He’s got to keep playing the way he is. [That] game, huge fight at the start got the crowd going, got the team into the game. He’s playing with a lot of energy and I think that’s all he has to keep doing.”
The hits, the fights, they overshadow the skill. For now.
“He knows what’s gotten him here. He’s an energy guy,” describes on-and-off linemate Matt Stajan. “He gets the whole building into the game. Whether it’s with hits or doing what he did at the start of last game. It’s the type of player that he is and we’re lucky we got him here. It won’t be the last time we see something like that. That’s what got him into the league.
“(But) he’s got a lot of skill. Ferland has a lot of skill that will be on display throughout his career.
“He’s just got to keep working. He gets it. He knows what he needs to do.”
That highlight-worthy physical presence disguise the fact the 23-year-old netted 47 goals as a junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings just four years ago.
The miles between then and now are significant. So too is the road the product of Swan River, MB. has taken to get to Calgary.
And for how documented that path has been off the ice, there’s a continued progression on the ice, too, that has seen Ferland weave through the professional ranks, back to the Western Hockey League, and re-dedicating himself to the sport he at one point pondered abandoning.
With 28 reps with the Flames under his belt, the notion that he’s just scratching the surface isn’t lost.
“I think everything is a learning experience, but at the same time you want to get better,” Ferland suggests. “I come to the rink everyday prepared to learn.”
Giordano can attest.
“He’s always hard,” Giordano details. “He’s always going full out, even at practice. A guy my size is trying to play body position, hopefully get out of his way. He’s an impressive player and I think he’s going to keep getting better and better.
“He’s going to be a huge help to us this year.”