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ITCHING TO GET STARTED

With the team's trip to China just around the corner, Bill Peters is eager to get going with his new squad

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Bill Peters sounds as if he's itching to move mountains, build dynasties, tear down doubt, snatch at the stars.

Maybe, given the opportunity next week, even scale the Great Wall of China.

Yes, the man is keen.

"I've never been,'' countered the Calgary Flames' coach of Beijing's architectural colossus. "How big is it?"

Well, 16 to 20 feet of stone, brick, tamped earth and wood high and a staggering 21,196 kilometres long, tip to tip.

The Mongols had quite the time conquering its imposing fortifications, but the restless, itching-to-get-started 53-year-old Peters may just give 'er a whirl all the same.

In order to release a storehouse of summer-long pent-up energy, you understand.

"It's time to go,'' he says, (not meaning to the tee box), as the delayed 8:30 a.m. shotgun start of the Flames Celebrity Charity Golf Classic out at Country Hills Golf Club

 "It's been a long summer.

"We talk and we talk and we talk. Let's get to work. Let's dig in and get to work.

"These guys have trained all summer.

"You know the Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait. It's like these guys, they're going to be sitting behind two groups on the teebox.

"What do you think they want to do? Sit on the cart? They only have so many jokes. Some of them are good and some of them are bad.

"They want to play.

"We want to play.

"It's time."

The charter flight for China and the opening of a split-squad training camp departs Tuesday at 1:00 p.m.

The Flames are set to face the Boston Bruins in the O.R.G. NHL China Games, two pre-season tilts, Sept. 15 at Shenzhen Universiade Center in Shenzhen and four days later at Cadillac Arena in Beijing.

Video: Johnny Gaudreau & Mike Smith on the trip to China

"When we first started working on China, there was a lot of moving parts, things were always changing,'' says Peters. "I wouldn't say it was frustrating, but you couldn't dial in your itinerary.

"Everything's dialed in now. OB (Director, Team Operations Sean O'Brien) went over with Gelly (assistant coach Martin Gelinas) and spoke glowingly of the situation, the food, the hotels we're going to be able to access.

"So I'm looking forward to taking our group of 26 over there and I think it's a competitive advantage getting started in that fashion.

"I think it's huge for our coaching staff. We're taking five lines, eight D, three goaltenders and we know kind of what we're going to do with the games in Shenzhen and Beijing.

"It's going to be a spectacular trip. Everything's going to be done first-class. The organization couldn't do any more to prepare us, there and back, with our recovery.

"It's gonna be a lot of fun. Boston, same thing."

Everything, naturally, is all buttercups and daisies, the possibilities endless, for each of the 31 teams as training camp dawns. It's that time of year. But Peters, a candid sort, really does fancy the structure and shape of the group at his disposal.

"When I took the job we talked about we wanted to address and I think (Brad Treliving) and management have been able to do that,'' says Peters, referencing the additions of James Neal, Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Derek Ryan and Austin Czarnik.

"We've improved our skill level and our speed on the right side. We're very deep up front and the guys we brought in, we can put 'em in multiple positions, centre and wing. We've added some right-handed face-off guys which was an issue for the team last year so we should be able to clean that up.

"I just look forward having the team right it's potential. That's the big thing.

"We have high expectations. That means your team is good and you have a chance to win. If there's no expectations, you're going through the motions and playing out the string it's not enjoyable.

"Everyone wants to have better years. We didn't play in the playoffs. Nobody's happy about that. I didn't coach in the playoffs (in Carolina). We all believe we have enough here to get into the playoffs so that's going to be the focus of our team.

"It's about wining hockey games, gathering points, making the playoffs and peaking at the right time of year."

"When the season ends and you unwind and the Stanley Cup is over … the first round is busy, multiple games every night. When summer comes in our business, I think you've got to get away, enjoy your family and friends.

"I was able to do that.

"Now it's time to dig in."

Make no mistake, Bill Peters is keen. Good thing he's not actually out on the course, because he sounds so pumped, like someone more in need of a restraint than a caddy.

"I'd rather be on the ice than at the golf tournament,'' he confesses, taking in the lovely September morning that greeted the at Country Hills.

"Great venue. Great day to raise money.

"But it's time.

"Let's play hockey."

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