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For Taber native Brandon Davidson, signing in Calgary brings him back to where he "fell in love with the game"

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Back in the day, down south Taber way, the Davidson household found itself hockey divided.

"My older brother (Kyle) was an Oilers fan," reports Brandon Davidson, from his current home base of Lethbridge. "A Ryan Smyth kinda guy.

"My dad (Scott) was a big Boston fan.

"So I sort of got stuck in the middle.

"But I loved watching Jarome play, going to Calgary to watch the Flames at the Saddledome, feeling the noise, feeling the atmosphere.

"That is, honestly, where I fell in love with the game."

Seven years into Davidson's professional journey - which includes 162 games at NHL stops in Edmonton, Montreal, the New York Islanders and Chicago, fate, along with a continuing interest by the Flames' organization, has brought him back to within hailing distance of his original doorstep.

"Calgary has always been one of the home cities for me, being close, growing up in Taber," says Davidson, who agreed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700,000 on Canada Day. "So I'm thrilled. We almost came to an agreement last summer. That didn't work out.

"I'm so happy this did.

"Over the years, I played a few games in the Dome. I also sat out a few games in the Dome. I remember playing for Edmonton in the Battle of Alberta, coming into the arena, hearing the noise, hearing the fans … it felt like a playoff game, that kind of vibe, at whatever point in the season. You can't replicate that anywhere else in the league.

"You feed off the energy. So I'm excited to come back and get a chance to play on the other side now."

Drafted 162nd overall at the 2012 NHL draft by way of the WHL Regina Pats, the now-27-year-old Davidson was blindsided during his first year pro when, during a routine medical exam, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

 

 

"I'd just made my American Hockey League team," he recalls. "Then I was hit with the cancer. After surgery I moved to chemotherapy and that's when everything kinda hit home. Mentally and physically I was just drained, exhausted.

"It's really hard going through that. But having my family there, having the Edmonton organization behind me full force, we were able to overcome it. We kind of met it head-on.

"It seems so long ago. I feel now that it was a blip in my life but definitely something that changed me and made me into the person I am today.

"It definitely drove me to go out and get what you want in life."

What Davidson wants most is here, now. With Scott, mom Laurie, his immediate family, as well as grandparents Alvin and Sharon in Taber, there's a posse of backing for him to finally put down NHL roots.

"To be close to my family and friends means everything to me. The games I play in front of them are more significant me than any others. Everybody's dying to watch games. I've already spoken to them and I'm sure they've buying tickets as we speak and even more pumped than I am.

"I've kinda been jumping all over the last few years, place to place, so I'd like nothing more than to settle in and have them there to support me, the way they always have, here, so close to home.

"The big thing for me is that I'm healthy now. The Flames have given me the opportunity to kick-start my career again; to grow into the person and player I'd like to be. And I won't take that for granted. I won't take it lightly.

"I want to get into Calgary early, get my feet wet, work out with a few guys, so that when camp opens I can hit it at full force.

"Excited. Ecstatic. I really am. I can't wait to pull on that Flames jersey and roll out in front of that crowd."

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