Dion Phaneuf will make his first return to Calgary since being involved in a trade that sent himself, Keith Aulie and Fredrik Sjostrom to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Ian White, Matt Stajan, Nicklas Hagman and Jamal Mayers nearly one year ago on January 31, 2010.
Phaneuf played four and a half seasons in a Flames uniform, a total of 378 games. He recorded 228 points in his years as a Calgary Flame.
"I'm sure he's really excited," said Mark Giordano. "Dion had a lot of good years here and played a lot of games for this team. For anyone, anytime you go back to somewhere where you've played, you're going to be excited. He's going to be excited and pumped to play in this building again. It'll be a good game but more importantly than that, it's a big game for both teams. Both of us need the points and it's going to be a pretty competitive game."
There was speculation of dressing room unrest involving Phaneuf following the trade. But that's all it was, speculation. He was liked in the Flames room and is recognized for the time he spent as a Calgary Flame.
"I think he did fit in," said Jarome Iginla. "We had a tough year last year but before that, he did a lot of really good things as a very young player and we made the playoffs for a lot of years. He was up for the Norris trophy, he's a good player."
Post-trade there is always analysis -- everyone has a thought on who won or lost a trade.
"We got guys who are a big part of our line-up and they got Dion," stated Iginla. "Changes happen in hockey every year on teams when you underperform and last year we didn't reach our goals and as a result, there were a lot of moves."
Head coach Brent Sutter is just focused on his own team, not what Phaneuf and the Toronto Maple Leafs are doing.
"Dion is coming back to where he started his career and had some very good years," said Sutter. "But he's moved on and this organization has moved on. Our focus inside that room needs to be ourselves, not on all the other stuff going on."
STAJAN RETURNS TO THE LINEUP
Matt Stajan has watched the last two games from the press box as a healthy scratch, something the forward hasn't done in a long time. Head coach Brent Sutter said Stajan's game wasn't where it needed to be.
"There are two reasons you are taken out of the line-up," explained Sutter. "It's you're not performing up to your potential and what's expected of you, or it's injuries or slashed numbers. It wasn't the latter of those."
Stajan understands his game needs work and that it needs to be at a higher level. He'll get an opportunity to show that Thursday against his former team as he is expected to be back in the line-up.
"It's definitely frustrating," said Stajan. "You want to be out there helping the guys win and when you're not playing, there's not much you can do. We need to be more consistent as a team and for myself as an individial, I need to make sure I'm working hard and playing a more consistent game. My focus will be on that when I get back in.
"I'm going to be ready to go. Brent told me I was playing and I'm anxious to get going. I've been waiting for this one for awhile and obviously I want to get back to contributing to this hockey club the way that I need to."
Added Sutter: "I expect him to come back and play the way we expect Matt to play, its pretty simple. We're in a situation where we need everyone to be playing well. We need guys bringing their 'A' game, and we need Matt to bring that. He had a tough start to the year. He started from behind getting hurt like he did. It's always tough for a player when you miss a good portion of the start of the season to catch up."
How does Stajan feel about playing his former team?
"That's the past," said Stajan. "You try to look forward. Obviously you don't just forget about the last seven years of your life but it's a new chapter and you move forward. I really have enjoyed my time here in Calgary. Hockey could be going better but we're going to work hard and make sure it does go better as a team and get to where we need to be.
"Tomorrow is another game. Obviously it's exciting to play all my old teammates but the main thing is we have to get another win and keep climbing."
"Dion was loud and energetic. A guy that you always knew when he was walking into the room, is the best way to explain him."- Robyn Regehr on Dion Phaneuf.
Author: Kristi Hennessy- calgaryflames.com