I was just starting to get used to him in the Boston colors -- a lot of people probably were. The maroon will probably look a little different but I’m happy for him, they’ve got a good team over there and he’ll fit in. - Matt Stajan
DENVER, CO -- Jarome Iginla in burgundy and steel blue?
It’ll take some getting used to, but that won’t take the shine off when the Calgary Flames square off against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, the first such time the team will play against the longtime franchise face with his new team.
“Yeah, that will be a change,” forward Matt Stajan said. “I was just starting to get used to him in the Boston colors -- a lot of people probably were. The maroon will probably look a little different but I’m happy for him, they’ve got a good team over there and he’ll fit in. He’s with [Alex Tanguay] again and we’ll have our hands full for sure.”
The Flames have seen Iginla -- the Flames' franchise leader in games (1,219), points (1,095) and goals (525) -- since the March 28, 2013 trade that sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski and the first round pick used to select Morgan Klimchuk.
But it's always good to see a friend, Stajan admitted.
“I had a chance to play with him for a few years and he’s a good friend,” he said. “He represented this franchise for over 10 years. It’s always special as a player and in my opinion he’s a future hall of famer. Anytime you play against guys like that -- I know it’s only pre-season -- but still in the battle it’s an honour.”
While Stajan has seen plenty of Iginla, Sunday’s game will be the first time High River, AB product Corban Knight will get the opportunity to share a sheet of ice with the longtime Calgary captain.
"It's going to be something else,” Knight said. “He was the Wayne Gretzky of our era, especially in southern Alberta. It's going to be pretty cool to see him out there but at the same time you can't be star-struck and get caught flat-footed.
“I'm still trying to make this team and I've got to make sure I have a good game. It's going to be pretty cool but I got to make sure I'm not standing still and just staring at him."
EVERY GAME MATTERS
The game will be especially important for Knight, who remains with the club after the Flames trimmed their camp roster by 12 on Saturday.
The 24-year-old understands that at this stage, every showing is an important one.
"It's kind of the realization that it's getting closer to the regular season and the coaches and management are watching closer every day to decide whether or not you're going to stay here,” Knight said. “The stakes get a little higher here, every game becomes more important, every practice, everything you do is really important. It's just one of those times where you've got to focus and make sure you're 100 percent concentrated on the task at hand.
“For me, I've got make sure I play a really solid game against a good team they're putting out there tonight."
It’s that message that coach Bob Hartley has relayed to his troops, both rookies and veterans alike.
“These next four games there is going to be some positions at stake and we’re going to put those guys in and see how they are,” he said. “But I told them if you’re not playing well you might sit out the last 10 minutes of the third period, we’re not going to roll four lines just for the sake of putting guys in any kind of situation.
“You want to be on power play, you want to be on penalty killing, you want to be on face-offs in the last minute, you need to earn it.”
UNDER THE WEATHER
Sven Baertschi survived the first five minutes of Sunday’s morning skate before making a quick exit. The 21-year-old is under the weather, according to Hartley.
“Baertschi is sick right now so he’s going to be a game-time decision,” Hartley said.
Brian McGrattan, originally expected to be a healthy scratch, could draw into the lineup for his fourth game of the pre-season should Baertschi be unable to play.
“It’s like regular season or playoffs, you always need to be ready and that’s why we carry extra players,” Hartley said. “This morning I told (McGrattan) you’re not playing, you’re going to be skating with me after practice. Sven came to me five minutes into the morning skate and said last night he didn’t feel good but had a good night’s sleep and felt better but as soon as he got on the ice and started sweating he started feeling sick again.
“We’ll see, there is a possibility Sven will be feeling god but you never know and you always have to be ready.”
Sunday’s game against the Avalanche will be on SN960 (radio) starting at 6 p.m. MST. There will be no television bradcast.