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'NO PLACE I'D RATHER BE'

Gaudreau says he 'loves' playing in Calgary, could see finishing his career here

by RYAN DITTRICK @rdittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

In times like these, one can't help but look in the mirror, ponder the 'what ifs' and pine for another shot.

Like, right now. 

But as the Flames officially enter off-season following a six-game series loss to the Dallas Stars last week, their most talented forward admits he isn't immune to the noise in his orbit. 

"To be honest, I hear it every once in a while," Johnny Gaudreau said of the possibility of a shake-up within the team's core. "I understand why fans are upset. We've been in the same situation the past few years. … It's frustrating on us. I'm sure it's frustrating on the fans. They're passionate. I'm sure they aren't happy. 

"We're not happy either."

 

Video: "I love playing there"

 

 

But one thing No. 13 wanted to make abundantly clear on the heels of his team's second-straight, first-round ouster: He wants to be a Flame. 

For life, if at all possible.

"Calgary's been a second home to me," Gaudreau said Monday from his off-season stable out east along the Jersey Shore. "I love playing there, I love my teammates there, the fans are awesome…

"It's a team I could see myself playing for the remainder of my career. 

"I've always said that. 

"I know there's been speculation that I want to go back east ... but throughout my whole time (in Calgary), I've been treated really well, love the city, and it's been a blast playing there the last six years. My family loves it there, girlfriend loves it there. 

"It's a special place for us."

 

 

Gaudreau and his long-time pal Sean Monahan were targets of some criticism for their 5-on-5 production during the playoffs. Gaudreau, specifically, finished third in team scoring with seven points (4G, 3A) in 10 games. 

While only one of those points - a goal - came at even strength, Gaudreau had plenty of chances that could have changed the narrative altogether. 

But that's the post-season for you. 

One bounce here or there and the entire complexion of a playoff series takes on a new life. 

Take Game 4, for example. The Flames allowed the tying goal with 11.9 seconds left in regulation - a lead that would have ensured a 3-1 series edge for the good guys. 

Instead, the Stars pushed the game to overtime and won it deep into the opening session when Alexander Radulov tipped home a John Klingberg shot to even the series at two games apiece. 

Earlier, though, Gaudreau had numerous chances to end the game with some quality looks in OT, but Anton Khudobin stood tall and kept the shifty winger at bay. 

While Gaudreau would certainly have liked to bury on a few of those opportunities, the fact that he was creating them speaks volumes about where he feels his game can get to come playoff time. 

"It's obviously something that with the main core, that we've struggled to get the past first, second round in previous years," Gaudreau said. "It's hard to play in the playoffs, and it's even harder just to get there. 

"It's a milestone just to get to the playoffs and you obviously want to succeed once you're there. So, it's something we've got to figure out. 

"If I had the exact answer, we would probably have a few Cups by now. It's tough, but you've got to fight through it, learn from it and go from there."

 

 

Gaudreau wants nothing more than to be part of the solution. 

Here. 

With this group of guys. 

And to reward the fans that have supported him through thick and thin.

"In all my time in Calgary, you know how passionate the fans are about our team," Gaudreau said. "That's the kind of market you want to be in, where the fans and everyone around the city, they want you to do well. They support us everywhere you go. 

"No matter where you play, there are going to be some hard times and you're going to get some scrutiny. 

"But here, we have passionate fans in Calgary and there's no place I'd rather be."

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