Mentally, I've got to stay calm and be ready for what's coming. I'm going to try to stay relaxed, play my game and be who I am. - Sean Monahan
WASHINGTON, DC -- Just over 24 hours away from his first NHL game, Calgary Flames rookie Sean Monahan looked very composed as media surrounded him after practice at the Verizon Center.
He didn't look antsy. He didn't look overwhelmed. He didn't look panicked.
He was very Monahan-like - direct, modest, professional - as he answered questions regarding how he felt about preparing for his first regular season game in The Show.
"I'm excited. I'm really looking forward to it," the 18-year-old said. "I'm nervous but once I step on the ice, those nerves usually go away. It's just hockey and I'm really excited to get out on the ice."
The kind of composure the young centre displayed on Wednesday should come as no surprise to anyone. Monahan has been incredibly poised - on and off the ice - throughout the Flames development camp, rookie camp, the 2013 Young Stars Classic and the pre-season.
Head coach Bob Hartley recognizes the maturity he possesses and kept his pre-game advice for his young charge very simple.
"He just has to enjoy it. He dreamed all his life about this and here it is," Hartley stated. "It's a matter of getting ready, be himself, keep it simple and come in with a good game."
The biggest thing Monahan is focused on is keeping a clear head both leading up to and throughout the game. While he is enjoying the excitement surrounding the season opener, he doesn't want to get wrapped in it and have it become a distraction.
"Mentally, I've got to stay calm and be ready for what's coming. I'm going to try to stay relaxed, play my game and be who I am.
"I've got to play smart, maybe take that extra second to look around and find the open guy. I think you've got to communicate a lot with the other guys on the ice. I think that really helps calm the game down."
While he was resolute and business-like throughout most of his post-practice interviews, he did crack a grin when asked about how this season opener has compared to that of his time in junior hockey. The amenities, he noted, are just a bit different than that of his previous teams.
"Coming to the season opener on a charter flight, it's pretty awesome.
"It's like living my dream."