PHILADELPHIA, PA -- When one is able to make playing hockey their career, there is often a lot more involved than just on-ice work.
There's decisions to make about where you're going to play. The paper work can seem endless. You may have to relocate to a whole new city or country. You have to get comfortable talking with the media and being on camera.
The past month has been filled with that sort of stuff for Johnny Gaudreau.
The 20-year-old had to make a decision about if he wanted to remain in college or transition to the pro ranks.
He has dealt with a lot of media about his season with the Boston College Eagles, the Frozen Four, the Hobey Baker Award, and what his future looks like.
And while he appreciates the support and recognition, he wants to be out on the ice.
Now, with his decision made, he'll get back to hockey on Sunday when he makes his NHL debut with the Flames in Vancouver.
"It’s been an exciting week here in [Philadelphia]. I’m excited to get a chance to play for the Flames.
"This past month has been pretty crazy with hockey and what I’m going to do with next year. I’m finally excited to get some stress off my shoulders and play hockey now."
While he's thrilled to get on the ice one more time this season, he doesn't want to let nerves get in the way in the game. There will be no way to completely eradicate the pre-game butterflies but he's hoping his new teammates will be able to offer up some advice to keep them manageable.
"It’s going to be difficult, definitely," he said. "My first NHL game is going to be pretty exciting. There is a lot of first year guys there that I got to play with in Calgary in the summer and they came up and played their first [NHL] game so I’m definitely going to be talking to them and see how they did it so easily — it’s definitely going to be one of my concerns there."
A bit of that anxiety has been abated by a familiar face. He will be joined by his friend and fellow Calgary prospect Bill Arnold in the Flames final game of the 2013-14 season, making the outing even more memorable.
"Bill has been my good buddy throughout my three years at Boston College and I got to play on a line with him all year.
"I’m excited I have someone to do this with and I’m not doing it by myself. It’s going to make the transition a lot easier and I’m excited to go to Calgary with Bill."
He will also have his parents in the crowd in Vancouver. They will be joining the Arnold's on-route to Vancouver to see their sons make their NHL debuts.
His mom, Jane, may be more excited than he is about the occasion than he is.
"She’s pretty happy for me right now. She’s been crying all day so it’s been pretty exciting to see how happy she’s been."
Sunday's game takes place at 6:00 PM MST with Sportsnet West (TV), Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio), and the Flames official app (radio) broadcasting the tilt.