[Stajan] is one of the most well liked guys in the room. I’m lucky enough to sit next to him. I’m lucky enough to play on his line. Having his son there, he came back and guys were so excited for him. He’s been hot ever since. - Brandon Bollig
Matt Stajan is short on sleep and big on delivering.
The proud father, alongside wife Katie, welcomed Elliot into the world almost two weeks ago and, despite juggling parenthood and patrolling the middle of the ice for the Calgary Flames, Stajan is tackling both just fine.
“I haven't got much sleep for the last little bit, so you're trying to find energy any way you can,” said Stajan, who marked his return to the Flames lineup against the Detroit Red Wings, scoring a goal and snagging the souvenir puck in the process.
“You talk to other guys with kids and I've learned this especially the past year -- when you go home, you focus on everything that is going on in your life and when you get to the rink, you get ready to work hard and give everything you've got for your teammates and your team.
“That's just the way you go about things. Obviously, when you're winning, it's a lot more enjoyable everywhere. But when there are tough stretches, you don't want to bring that home either. You want to go home and kind of take a break from the stress that sometimes hockey brings.
“That's one thing about being a good pro -- you have to learn never to get too high and never to get too low. You have to keep an even balance and if you can do that, you'll play a long time and be successful. I think that's what our team has been able to do this year.”
Stajan, though, is up, both personally and professionally. The 31-year-old has a smile that hasn’t dimmed in weeks. Nor should it.
Since Elliot’s birth, Stajan has found success in juggling both home and work.
Four of his 14 points this season have come after Elliot’s arrival. Three of seven goals have, too. With a goal before breaking from the team to be with Katie prior to the birth, Stajan has a four-game point-scoring streak going.
“I think there’s a couple factors contributing to that and it’s huge,” linemate Brandon Bollig said. “Obviously [Stajan] is one of the most well liked guys in the room. I’m lucky enough to sit next to him. I’m lucky enough to play on his line. Having his son there, he came back and guys were so excited for him. He’s been hot ever since. He’s got four (points) in his last couple of games. It’s huge. It’s huge for us.”
Stajan’s spark, ironically, comes at a time where he’s been the least rested. Up a couple times per night with Elliot has made for some erratic sleeping patters in the Stajan household.
“I’ve actually talked to him about that and he said he’s up every couple hours,” Bollig said. “Given the circumstances I don’t think him and Katie would want anything less. They love it. I’ve talked to them about it. They love the parenthood deal and I think that just adds to his game here in the room and makes him excited. It’s great to see.”
It’s got some younger members of the team, like Joe Colborne for example, questioning their own methods.
It might be time to switch it up, he admitted.
“Maybe I need to start getting less sleep,” said Colborne, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “I might have to change my schedule so I’m waking up every couple of hours.
“There’s not a single guy in the room that could be happier for the guy. Just with life, not even anything to do with what’s going on on the ice. We’re just so happy for him and Katie to have Elliot and to be able to enjoy that. This is all just a bonus.
“It just kind of puts it into perspective that we are just playing a game and there are more important things in life than what goes on here. He’s been such a stabilizing influence for us, for me especially, the last year and a half. It’s so nice to see him get some positive things happening for him.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for Stajan.
Elliot’s arrival comes one day shy of the first birthday of their first child Emerson, who passed shortly after birth.
With his second child, Stajan rejoined the team with the knowledge of immeasurable loss, but miracles too.
“I try to take it one day at a time,” he said. “I'm really enjoying my time with my family right now. It's been a process. We're never going to forget what happened. We're never going to forget Emerson and everything that happened there, but you do move forward and learn to live with it and when you have a good support around you with my wife and my family and my teammates, you start feeling better and better.
“Seeing the new little guy born, it's been a good couple of weeks here. You're just trying to enjoy life and take it day-by-day. Right now, we're in a fun playoff race with our team. It's the best part of the year for hockey, as well.”