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'I WANT TO WIN IN CALGARY'

Tkachuk said it's an exciting time to be a Flame - and he can't wait to get back on the ice with his teammates

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

Bottom line: He wanted to win. 

Here. 

As a Flame, and with this group of guys. 

"They're the ones that have made it so fun to come to the rink every day," smiled Matthew Tkachuk Wednesday afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome, fresh off the signing of a new three-year, $21-million pact. 

"Having the finish we had last year made it even more clear to me that I want to win with this group. 

"I want to win in Calgary. 

"We could have argued over the long-term, short-term.... We knew this was going to work for both of us. I'm very happy with how it ended and I'm excited to get on the ice tomorrow."

 

Video: "There's no place I'd rather be"

 

The Fans - inarguably - feel the same around these parts. 

No longer a player on the rise, but a bona fide star in the front of his prime years, Tkachuk pointed to the passion of the market as a big reason why Calgary is the right fit. 

"I love it here," he said. "It's an exciting time to be a Calgary Flame."

Initially, both he and general manager Brad Treliving targeted a long-term deal, but a variety of factors including salary cap restraints made that more difficult, if the nucleus of the team were to be retained. 

Eventually, both parties landed on a shorter-term contract, which allowed Treliving to keep the core intact. 

"This wasn't a negotiation that was profanity-laced 24/7," Treliving joked. "Everyone thinks you start by arm-wrestling over numbers. But Matthew said, 'How do we win?' 

"His goal was, 'How do we keep this group, how do we add to this group, and how do we win with this group?'

"Matthew wants to be here. He wants to play his career here. He wants to sign here as long as he can sign here. That was our goal, our mission, at the beginning.

"We spent days, hours and months talking about long-term. But that's how we get to the term that we got to."

Tkachuk, who arrived earlier in the day from Toronto and said there was a palpable buzz in the airport upon his arrival, is over-the-moon happy with how it all played out. 

With the scrappy, superbly talented left wing in tow, the Flames return what is largely the same group as last year. 

No one being dealt away, all in the name of cap savings. 

That Treliving was able to retain this wealth of talent without any major surgery to the roster is a testament to what the team has.

And how the 'window' is open. 

"We're a 100-point team last year and basically everyone's back," Tkachuk beamed. "We're chomping at the bit. 

"I really didn't really think about (a three-year deal) too much until maybe late August, and once that idea was brought up, I was really intrigued by it and wanted to do it because I knew it would benefit both sides."

Tkachuk is coming off an immaculate campaign in which he posted career highs across the board, including 34 goals that tied him with Sean Monahan for the team lead and the fourth-most points with 77.

 

 

He was also his usual gritty self, serving as a thorn in the side of his opponents on a nightly basis and drawing the ire of fans in visiting barns.

A lot will be expected from him this year - a pressure he tends to feed off, if the past is any indication.   

As Treliving said, players of Tkachuk's ilk don't grow on trees. 

And the Flames are lucky to have him in their corner for years to come. 

"You want to be there with your teammates," Tkachuk said. "It's hard to be away. It's not like they didn't include me in anything. I felt like I was here even though I wasn't here…

"But I'm excited to be back. 

"This is awesome." 

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