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Parade has started for Hartley's rookies

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

I told the boys in a parade there are two places you can be; you're either in the parade or you're on the sidewalk waving at it. Bob Hartley

CALGARY, AB -- There are drivers and there are passengers.

Participants and fans. Grand Marshalls and spectators.

Be on the float.

That's the message from Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley to the likes of Sean Monahan, Michael Ferland and Emile Poirier, who will start on a line Saturday in exhibition action against the Edmonton Oilers.

Be the Grand Marshall.

"It always has to come from the veterans but if I'm Monahan or I'm a Ferland, I'm a Poirier and those guys, the parade is started," Hartley said. "I told the boys in a parade there are two places you can be; you're either in the parade or you're on the sidewalk waving at it.

"I hope they choose the right option."

The trio have looked like veterans in practice and inter-squad games in the days leading up to the Flames' opening preseason action, split-squad games simultaneously being played in Edmonton in Calgary.

Lead the march. Don't be caught in the risers.

The memo is well received by Poirier, selected 22nd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Poirier, 18 and just three months removed from draft day, can further his chances of sticking around in Calgary with a strong exhibition series.

He knows what he has to do.

"I think just play my game, with speed, with intensity, work hard," he said. "That's what [Hartley] wants. Just play with a good pace and intensity."

And leave the nerves on the sidelines.

"I think more excited than nervous," Poirier said. "I think it's just great to finally play here."

Veteran Mark Giordano, entering his eighth season as a member of the Flames, doesn't have a strategy to squash any nerves in the rookie contingent.

Instead, his advice didn't differ much from Hartley's.

Get engaged.

"You can't really, you can just tell them to play their game and all that sort of stuff," Giordano said.

"It doesn't matter really. Your first few games, whether it's exhibition or a regular season game, you're going to be nervous no matter what. I think the main thing is to try to make a play or a hit or get something early the first shift to sort of relax your nerves.

"I found if I got hit or made a play early when I was young in my first few games. If I did that I felt a lot better and a lot more comfortable."

As Giordano pointed out, the nerves will be there. No doubt about it.

That's especially true for Corban Knight, who grew up a Flames fan in the neighbouring High River.

But even he can turn those nerves into positive energy.

"The fact that I get to play my first NHL exhibition game in the Saddledome here in Calgary at home, it's pretty special," the 23-year-old said. "I think it's very exciting. I think the crowd is going to be rocking tonight."

As long as he's not caught being one of the spectators at the game, he'll have followed his coach's directive.

And be on the proper side of Hartley's parade.

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