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Flames' Kobelka relishes experiences with Team Canada

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- His international resume is as decorated as any you’ll find in hockey.

And Calgary Flames head therapist Kent Kobelka will have the opportunity to add to his hardware haul as a member of Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

“It’s like anything,” said Kobelka, who will be joined by Flames’ team doctor Dr. Ian Auld and vice president of communications Peter Hanlon on Canada’s entry. “As an athlete you want to play for your country because it’s an honour. Being a part of the medical staff and being a part of that team, you want to be a part of that to be proud of what you’re doing.

“You’re representing your country and you’re a part of that team.”

Kobelka has represented Canada well over the course of his involvement with the men’s program.

He’s won gold with Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team at both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games, gold at the 2007 and 2016 IIHF World Championships, silver at the 2008 and 2009 IIHF World Championships, gold at the 2008 and 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships, bronze at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship, and has a Spengler Cup title from 2012.

There are no favourites.

Only lifelong memories.

“The Vancouver Olympics (in 2010) … you’re part of history,” Kobelka said. “We won in overtime when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal. Your family and friends are all there to share it. That experience was amazing. But the thing about that is there were so many people around … everyone had their families and whatever else … it was great to share with everyone.

“In Russia (in 2014) it was different because it was pretty much just the team. We were in the Olympic Village and was isolated. It was a completely different experience because you didn’t have so much of the families around. Your family was your coaching staff, training staff, and players. It had a completely different feel.

“There’s nothing like winning at home. The World Juniors a couple years ago in Toronto (in 2015) … great experience.

“Your first one. Moscow in 2007…that’s special because we had a team that really wasn’t expected to win … the first one is really special …

“It’s been a pretty neat experience. Sometimes you’ve got to sit and go, ‘I’m pretty lucky.’ Very lucky. Every experience has been great.”

The achievements are on display, proudly, at the Kobelka household.

As they should be.

“They used to be tucked away, but that’s not where they should be,” he said. “It’s show-and-tell. Last year we did some changes to the house and one of the changes was to do a little display case so that your kids and friends can put them on and try them on, from the rings to the medals. You want to share those things, because they’re pretty impressive.”

On the international stage, the only thing missing from Kobelka’s collection is a World Cup ring.

He has the chance to nab that when the format returns for the first time since 2004 in an eight-team best-on-best taking place in Toronto from Sept. 17 - Oct. 1, 2016.

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve done a lot of events, but every time I’m asked I say to my wife, ‘This might be the last time I get asked.’ She says that’s getting old,” he said.

“But it’s true. It won’t last forever. The World Juniors … you work with the young up-and-comers … the Connor McDavids and Max Domis … you get to see the future. You get to be at the World Championships. It allows people who have had bad seasons to turn them around. Having a difficult season to winning a World Championship … it rejuvenates you to be a part of something and brings that energy back.

“When you get to go to the World Cup or the Olympics and you’re with the best of the best, just to see how athletes prepare…what you have to do from a rehab and preventative stuff … is a huge learning thing for us to be a part of. It’s pretty good.”

Those learning experiences helped land Kobelka on the Flames five years ago. He’s spent a half-decade with Calgary, and completed his first as the team’s Head Therapist in 2015-16.

With the Flames, he has his eyes on one more addition to his resume.

One more ring.

A Stanley Cup ring.

“Ultimately to be a part of that, what you have to do is amazing,” Kobelka said. “That’s the ultimate thing. It’s obviously why everyone wants to be a part of it. You want to be a part of a winner. That’s the one now that’s the one that you’ve got to be in search of. Ultimately that’s the one you want to have, for sure.

“Now I want to win a Stanley Cup and I don’t know what’s next or not next either. It’s interesting that way, for sure.”

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