And just in time, too.
“Everyone was asking when it was going to get done,” Ferland said from Canada Olympic Park’s WinSport facility Thursday, shortly after putting the pen to paper on a new two-year contract. “I wasn’t worried, I knew it was going to get done soon. It was just a matter of time. I’m really excited. I’m just really happy that it’s finished and I can start focusing on hockey. I’m happy that it got done and I’m really honoured.”
There’s a sense of relief from the Flames camp, too.
“I think it’s just like anything,” assistant general manager Craig Conroy said. “You’re going through the process and finally to be able to get it done was nice. It is getting close to camp, but we knew we were going to get it done, it was just a matter of when. Now Michael doesn’t have to worry about that and can focus on playing. Having him back for a couple years is big for the organization too.”
Ferland, a product of Brandon, Man. played 26 games with Calgary last season, scoring two goals and added three assists along with 16 penalty minutes.
But the 23-year-old had a breakout performance in the Flames’ first playoff appearance since 2009, scoring three goals and adding two assists, alongside 23 penalty minutes and a team-leading 50 hits while skating in nine Stanley Cup playoff contests.
It’s a long road for Ferland, who just two years ago toiled with short stints in both the American Hockey League, with the Abbotsford Heat, and the ECHL, with the Utah Grizzlies, before being returned to the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League for his overage season.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound power winger hasn’t forgotten the journey.
“I always talk about where I was two years ago,” he started. “Two years ago I was on the East coast and thought I was going to give up on hockey. I changed my life around. People always told me that if you change your life off-ice, your career will unfold in front of you. I’m just happy with the road I’m on right now.
“There’s days I looked in the mirror and think like wow, I actually played in the playoffs last year. Just being apart of the playoff team we had last year, I just want to get back to that. Playing hockey and winning games. There’s no better feeling than winning a hockey game.”
Ferland’s story, one of perseverance and sobriety, is one Conroy applauds.
And one young players should aspire to, as well.
“I think all young guys who are not where they want to be right now, if you put in the effort in and work hard, good things can happen. Never give up,” Conroy said. “He’s put in the time in the gym in the offseason and just the commitment level that he’s shown us with (strength and conditioning coach) Ryan Van Asten.
“I’m excited, because there has been some tough times. When he did go to the east coast league and then back to Brandon. There have been some ups and downs, but he’s persevered through some personal off-the-ice stuff. Now here he is in the NHL for a coupe more years. That’s what you can say to all the young kids, look at Micheal Ferland.”
There’s still plenty to add to the story, suggests Ferland.
With just a small body of NHL experience, the 23-year-old old envisions more.
But he’s already reflective of the time he’s already spent, and where he came from to get it.
“There’s still days I wake up and think that I played in the NHL,” Ferland said. “I just want to enjoy it and take everything in as a learning experience and have fun while I’m here."