The circus surrounding the newcomers at Flames' training camp has caused many storylines to be overshadowed, one of the key ones being the ongoing battle for the privilege of playing on the top two forward lines.
There are an impressive collection of players up front vying for a featured role in the Calgary offence, and so far Curtis Glencross
has made the most compelling case for his inclusion in the top six, with four goals and seven points in four exhibition games.
"You want to set your goals right? I was top nine (forwards) last year, and you always set your goal a little higher the year after. It's definitely my goal this year to crack the top six," said Glencross, who credits his early success to coach Brent Sutter's new system.
"(The new style of play) definitely suits my game, it's a little more aggressive on the forecheck and I enjoy being aggressive on the forecheck... it involves a bit more patience, but we still have our aggressive side on it. You can jump on turnovers and you've just got to capitalize on your opportunity."
Coach Sutter has in turn been impressed with Glencross so far in the preseason, but he continues to sing the same refrain shared by everyone on the team since training camp began, preaching the importance of cohesive and consistent team play.
"Glenny's put up some offensive numbers and scored some goals here in camp, but I look at other things I want to see in players. I want to see the details in the game. I want to make sure we're an intelligent team, we practice intelligently, and that will carry over into games. Our alertness, our awareness needs to be good, scoring goals is one thing, but there are other parts of the game I expect everyone to contribute and do it the same way and the right way," said Sutter.
In traditional preseason fashion, the coach has experimented with Glencross, giving him a number of different linemates and putting him into different positions on the ice. So far, Sutter has noted with satisfaction the forwards ability to perform regardless of the situation.
"Glenny's role is his role, and yet you don't ever want to see a player with tunnel-vision, there's got to be expansion there."
Glencross has peculiar pursuits in his offseason, including working as one of the crew for Rae Croteau Jr.'s chuckwagon race team during the Calgary Stampede. Last season was the best of the Kindersley, Sask. Native’s career, as he tallied 13 goals and 40 points in 74 regular season games. Approaching the biggest season of his career, Glencross didn't change too much from his usual summer regiment.
"Changed the curve a little bit in my stick, and that's it," said Glencross. "It's been lucky for me so far, the pucks been going in a little bit."
While Glencross' furious preseason has caught the attention of many outside the Flames' locker room, inside his teammates know Glencross has all the tools to be a top notch NHL player, and as a result they're not surprised their talented mate is finally getting his due.
"He had a really good year last year for us too," corrected Flames captain Jarome Iginla
when asked if he was surprised with Glencross' performance so far this year.
"He's flying, he's a guy that's probably one the fastest skaters on our team and we've got some pretty quick guys. He's a great skater, a gritty guy. He'll do anything, play any role, he hits, he checks, he fights, he can score and pass. He's played a lot of different roles for our team, each one he's done really well and he just keeps getting better. It's awesome to see him going this well in training camp and hopefully it'll continue into the regular season."
Typically modest and understated, Glencross believes his success will inevitably be shared by the entire team if they stricktly stick to the coaches' program.
"As long as we keep our system it seems like were going to be in the right spots, it's going good right now."