Abbotsford, BC – As promised Jim Playfair appointed a captain in time for the New Year naming Quintin Laing the franchise’s third captain ahead of the Heat’s Dec. 31 clash with the Texas Stars.
“From the moment that Quintin became a part of our team, we knew he was a natural leader,” said Playfair. “Quintin earned instant respect from our team and he helped focus our dressing room with leadership stability right away.
“He has already shown that he is a responsible leader and excellent at helping teach our young team how best to prepare both on and off the ice.”
Laing follows Garth Murray and Brett Palin who split time as the team’s captain during the 2009-10 season.
"From the start of the year until now, I don't think I could have asked for anything more," said Laing. "The (captaincy) is something I take very seriously. I want to make sure I'm an ambassador of the team on and off the ice. It's about being a good leader and a good communicator with the coach and assistants.
"It's a huge honour, a huge privilege every time you get to wear the 'C'."
In 22 games with Abbotsford this season Laing has a goal and five helpers. The 31-year-old was signed by the Heat in November after starting the season with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL.
Brendan Mikkelson finds himself in a familiar part of the country after being sent to Abbotsford on a conditioning assignment.
The 23-year-old Regina native spent parts of two seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL during his junior hockey days and has been temporarily reunited with his former teammate Lance Bouma.
“It’s making things a little easier here, seeing a lot of faces I’ve seen before,” said Mikkelson, who won a Memorial Cup with Bouma in 2007. “It definitely makes things coming in here a little bit easier.”
Mikkelson was claimed off waivers by Calgary in mid-October, but sat out the last 14 games as a healthy scratch before being assigned to Heat.
Now the six-foot-three, 205-pound defenceman is just trying to get his conditioning back.
“I think just getting the game legs back under me. I sat out a little while there in Calgary,” he said. “I think it’s just getting the game legs back, that quick thinking back, seeing the ice, getting hit and dishing hits, a lot of those little things.”
“It was nice to be out there, reading the play – competing again.”
Along with Mikkelson, Mikael Backlund was assigned to Abbotsford last Sunday; however, his stay was over in a hurry.
The native of Vasteras, Sweden, played just one game for the Heat before being re-called by the Flames.
The 21-year-old had a shot on goal and was a minus-1 in Abbotsford’s first of two games against the Manitoba Moose this week.
The following morning the Flames recalled Backlund, and on Wednesday night he helped set up Calgary’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to Vancouver.
Backlund finished 7-for-12 in the face-off circle and was even in just over 12 minutes of ice time.
"I thought Backlund played very well,” said Brent Sutter afterwards. “I thought he was good.”
After nearly a season and a half with the Abbotsford Heat, forward J.D. Watt requested a trade this week and was placed on unconditional waivers, then released by the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
“J.D. notified us on Monday that he was no longer interested in pursuing his career with the Calgary Flames organization,” said Flames acting GM, Jay Feaster. “He informed us of his decision and as a result, he was then suspended and cleared unconditional waivers (Wednesday) morning.
“We are moving forward in the best interests of the hockey club, our players in Abbotsford and the Flames organization.”
In 27 games with the Heat this season, the Cremona, AB native had four points, 73 penalty minutes and lead the team with a plus-7 rating.
“Now I’m an unrestricted free-agent, I’m talking to teams right now and I’m looking forward to an opportunity with another organization,” said Watt. “Wherever the best place for me as a hockey player, and to have an opportunity to play at a higher level – that’s where I’ll end up.”
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Heat closed out the 2010 calendar year with a pair of losses at the Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre to the Texas Stars (AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars).
Last Friday night, Greg Nemisz had the lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the Stars, the following night Tyler Beskorowany turned aside 25 shots to blank the Heat 3-0.
Earlier this week Abbotsford entertained the Manitoba Moose (AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) for a pair of games.
On Monday night Tyler Weiman made 27 saves as the Moose shutout the Heat 4-0.
Tuesday, in front of the entire Flames brass, the Heat dropped a 2-1 decision. Greg Nemisz once again had the lone Abbotsford goal.
INJURY UPDATECarter Bancks
– concussion Gaelan Patterson
– concussion Kris Chucko – concussion John Negrin – Knee
There may be more good news on the way as defenceman John Negrin, who has been out since Oct. 11, has an appointment with his doctor scheduled for Monday where he could get cleared to rejoin the line up.
Abbotsford continues their 10-game home stand this Friday and Saturday as they entertain the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL Affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers).
The Heat then have the week off to prepare for a couple of games against the Toronto Marlies next weekend.