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LACK LANDS IN CALGARY

The goaltender has arrived in Calgary and is ready to get the season going with his new team

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Slipping on a Flaming C jersey, albeit only a practice version, for the first time at WinSport on Friday morning, Eddie Lack felt as if he'd well and truly arrived.

Not only in person.

But in spirit. In allegiance.

And soon enough, in battle-readiness.

"It was really cool,'' reports the man projected to partner Mike Smith as Guardians of the Calgary Flames' Galaxy this coming season.  

"Definitely a special feeling when you put on a new jersey for the first time. I think it suited me.

"I've got my new pads, new gear. I've got a mask that's got a little bit of Sweden, a little bit of Calgary and a little bit of me on it.

"Another one's coming I'm really excited about. A little more humour, some cowboy, in that one.

"You'll see."

Apparel-wise, then, things couldn't be better.

Tweet from @eddielack: So proud of Brians and taking the next step with them. These new pads are Trevor Kidd inspired for sure and can't wait to wear them������#optik pic.twitter.com/ZqA5tOouhy

The personal business of re-locating for he and bride Joanna is going well, too.

"We have a place locked-down,'' he reports. "Our stuff won't get here until next week - we were in Raleigh packing up - so we'll stay in a hotel until then.

"Next week we'll have a lot of things to do but I figure it's good to get everything like that done before camp so I can just focus on hockey.

"My wife has been a rock in all of this. I'm lucky to have her. She's doing 95 per cent of the work and I'm just along for the ride."

Sunday, Lack will officially join the community, one of a number of Flames and family - including captain Mark Giordano, Matt Stajan, Sean Monahan and Kris Versteeg - participating in the Calgary Pride Parade.

The last few months have certainly been a whirl for the 29-year-old puck-repeller from Norrtälje, Sweden:

Marrying on the Greek island of Santorini, honeymooning in Italy and receiving news that he'd been dealt by the the Carolina Hurricanes to the Flames.

An off-season enough for anyone.

"Tough?'' repeats Lack. "No not really. At the end (in Raleigh) I was just waiting for something to happen. Right now I'm in such a good place mentally.

"At the beginning of the summer - with the wedding, the trade - I felt everything was falling into place."

He's pleased as punch for the fresh start here after a dispiriting campaign in Raleigh, going 8-7-3 with a 2.64 GAA and a .902 save percentage in 18 starts. However, he capped off his year in North Carolina with a 5-2-1 record in his last eight appearances of the season.

"I think it was very important for me to come back and play very, very well at the end of the season. It was important to show I can still play."

In a job notorious for its inherent tensions, its uber-intense personalities, he is an exception. Most goalies are, of course, wound tighter than a $2 watch.

Not Lack.

As a seven-year-old back home in Norrtälje, he'd regularly arrive at the local rink three hours before practice time.

"We only had two sets of pads on the team,'' Lack explains. "And we'd rotate positions at that age.

"But I always wanted to be in net.

"So I made sure I'd get there to get the pads I wanted. Hide them? Yeah. I found some good spots. Or I'd get changed into them early so I wasn't going to take them off, right?

"It was fun. And I always got to play goal."

Nicknamed Eddie the Entertainer for his laid-back attitude or The Stork for a 6-foot-5-inch frame, he's that guy able to keep things loose in stress-filled moments.

You's swear that old Bobby McFerrin late '80s charter-topper Don't Worry, Be Happy is running on a loop in his head.

"I tried being more serious, being a little more intense,'' Lack says of the hard-to-shake goalie stereotype. "I tried to be a little more in my own bubble.

"Don't get me wrong, when I'm practicing or in games I hate to lose. Then I'm that guy who takes things the most personally. That's when I'm serious.

"I think anyone who knows me, who's played with me, with tell you that.

"But when I'm not doing my job, I found it was better to just be a happy, easy-going guy.

"To be me.

"I feel that's when I perform the best, too. If I'm going to be frowning, be uptight, 24 hours a day, I'm going to be tired when the games start."

What other hockey player has ever had a taco named after him.

"The Lacko Taco,'' laughs David Marcoux, Miikka Kiprusoff's former guru here and Lack's goaltending coach in Carolina last season. "He loves his tacos. He's got a taco tattoo on his forearm.

"The big Mexican restaurant in Carolina, Gonza, did a commercial with him. Eddie actually created this Lacko Taco with smoked, slowly cooked meat.

"And they were really, really good.

"So a fun guy. Around the room, all the boys respect him, like him, for who he is. A real team player.

"Very easy going. Not complicated. Low maintenance as a coach. Before a game he's playing, you can talk with him. In between periods, too. He'd bounce ideas, suggestions, off me, too.

"His work ethic is very, very high. You can be the most lovable guy in the world but at some point you've gotta stop pucks. And the nights he did play in Carolina, there were a lot of quality games."

Lack figures he inherited his innate sense of fun from his dad, Wille, a carpenter.

"He's very talkative, like me. A happy person. But he's got that part of him, too, that when it's time for business, it's business.

"I would say I'm similar to him in a lot of ways."

Do those similarities extend to wielding a lathe or a power-drill, too?

"Well, we're actually working on a couple of things this summer together, around the house. I try to do the boring stuff he doesn't want to do. Tightening screws. Painting.

"Nothing too demanding."

The demanding part starts mid-September, dovetailing into the opening of training camp.

 Busy getting things organized for his move here, Friday was Lack's first time on the ice in a couple of weeks.

"I was,'' he acknowledges, "a little rusty.

"But the last month or so I've been really eager to get going again.

"Just super excited to get back into the routine. You meet your teammates. You get to know them. You get back into the rhythm of practices and games.

"That's what I love about hockey. The opportunity to go out there to battle with those guys every day."

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