While the Calgary Flames' captaincy search will not come until this summer, coach Bob Hartley has an entire line of potential candidates in Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan and Curtis Glencross.
Stajan was the recipient of the Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award on Friday, given to the Flames player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, determination and leadership on the ice, combined with dedication to community service. Glencross was the recipient of the award last season.
Stempniak, meanwhile, earned the J.R. McCaig Award, issued to who best exemplify Mr. McCaig’s enduring virtues of respect, courtesy and compassion for all individuals he encountered both in his professional and everyday life.
Hartley didn't hide his appreciate for the trio's character.
"They're great individuals, whether it's Stempy, Staj, Glennie," he said. "I've said this from the first day of training camp because I had a chance prior to the work stoppage to meet those guys. I talked two, three times during the summer over the phone to those guys There's not one bad person. There's not one bad team player on this team and everyone's working.
"It was well deserved for Stempy and Staj but at the same time, I think that it could be shared with many teammates also."
DAY TO REFOCUS
With a few mental distractions surrounding the team last week, Hartley gave his players the day off Saturday before returning to the ice on Sunday to refocus on the task at hand.
"We've seen lots of attention in the past couple of days but that was predictable," Hartley said. "It was not a surprise for anyone. I think to go back and spend a good day with their families, I felt like today we saw lots of smiles, we saw great practice, but it's not over. We're still going on until Wednesday and I'm sure that there's still some guys asking questions, but that's part of our daily routine."
Even Hartley took the day to unwind.
"Yesterday I went to play bowling. I had friends from back home," he said. "I don't take days off because I feel I don't work. I do what I like the most. So for me, it's not a matter of how many hours I do, I just feel that I'm very grateful to be in the NHL and work in the game that I love so much and at the game at the same time that gave me so much. Days off, I'll have plenty of days off when I retire."
So what did the Flames' coach roll?
"Not very good," he admitted. "I wouldn't need a big marker to write my score but I tried my best."
PREPPING FOR BATTLE
The Flames are set to renew their rivalry with the Edmonton Oilers with an intensified Battle of Alberta that will feature a back-to-back, home-and home set starting Monday.
And with the Oilers holding a five-point edge over the Flames in the Western Conference standings, the four points up for grabs become all that more valuable, according to Mark Giordano.
"Obviously we have to catch them and move ahead of them in the standings," he said. "Four points would be real nice for us. We did a lot of good things last game, we just have to eliminate some of the glaring errors."
To earn points in the first set, Calgary will have to put away their road struggles.
"Right now we need wins everywhere," Hartley said. "Obviously we know what's at task tomorrow night but at the same time, we want to climb in the standings. No one will give us free points. We know the rivalry between the two teams. I think that we're going to see a great game and we want to come out flying and they certainly want to do the same.
"Let's drop the puck."