The Calgary Flames game plan is to outwork opponents. To outwork opponents, they’re going to need to be in top shape.
And coach Bob Hartley hasn’t been shy in whipping his team into shape.
Still in training camp mode, the Calgary coach put 26 of his players through an exhausting two-hour practice Saturday morning.
"They've been working hard, I'm having lots of fun with those guys,” Hartley said. “We can feel that the commitment is there and that's the first ingredient to our culture. We want to be relentless, to go and so far that's what we're getting from those guys."
The intense workouts were something that Hartley had difficulty implementing last year. With the work stoppage forcing a compressed 48-game schedule, the bench boss had few opportunities to really put his team through the paces.
This year, however, allows for what amounts to a more intensive practice schedule and the Flames were mindful to bring in players that could keep up with the new culture.
"I addressed it with many and obviously we brought some new people in, too and that was one of the requirements,” Hartley said. “You look at the (David) Jones, you look at the (TJ) Galiardi, those guys are good workers and that's the kind of people that we want to add to this mix."
TIME TO EVALUATE
With roster spots still to be determined, few are complaining about the heavy workload in practice.
If anything, the longer ice sessions give more time for hopefuls to impress Calgary’s coaching staff and management.
"Jay (Feaster) is always around,” Hartley said. “That's why he's around. We're always looking at night, morning, afternoon. We're always reviewing if one guy went down; one guy goes up in our rankings. It's tough. We have so many guys that are at a photo finish right now but that's a good problem.”
Meaning practice will help determine who comprises the 23-man roster announced in advance of Monday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline.
LAST CUT ISN’T FIRST RECALL
Despite making the cut to 28, those that aren’t among Monday’s 23-man roster aren’t necessarily the first in line to be called back up.
The work done with the Abbortsford Heat -- the Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate -- will determine who earns the first flight back to Calgary.
“The battle will not be over,” Hartley said. “Once you go back to Abbotsford, you're not tagged first call-up, second call-up, third call-up. That's a thing where we want to make it motivating for everyone down there.”
The opinions of Abbotsford’s coaching and management staff will weigh heavily when it comes to recall.
"We told everyone it's not because you're the last one to leave Calgary, it will mean that you will not be the first one back because obviously Troy Ward, Robbie Ftorek, Craig Conroy will be monitoring this very closely,” Hartley said. “We're always talking with those guys.”