After an impressive preseason, Kotalik was injured on Oct. 1 and missed 26 contests with a knee malady. Coming back midseason, the veteran recorded three goals in 20 games. His performance wasn't turning any heads and acting general manager Jay Feaster opted to send him to Abbortsford to play with the Flames number on affiliate club, the Heat.
The Kotalik that registered three goals and two assists in four preseason outings suddenly appeared when he landed in British Columbia. The forward was on fire in Abbotsford, scoring 19 points in 18 games.
With David Moss
out indefinitely and Freddy Modin status up in the air, the Flames needed to find someone to help fills the holes up front so Kotalik was recalled from Abbotsford earlier this week.
"I'm glad I'm back, absolutely," he said on Wednesday morning. "It's been a good experience for me and right now, there's not really time for any hard feelings. This is the situation I'm usually in at the end of the season. It's tight and I'm glad I have a chance to be back and to contribute.
"Hopefully I can bring the spark right now and be good for this team right now. That's the goal."
Despite his excellent performance with the Heat, Kotalik did say he wasn't expecting to play in Calgary again this season. The chance to come into such a tight playoff race is something he relishes, however, and he's looking forward to being able to help the team in their final 10 regular season games.
"It's the opportunity to step in and help. Especially at this time of year, it's the most exciting part. I'm not going to be a different player than I've been. I'm going to go out and try to do things right and not worry about the other things. They'll take care of themselves eventually."
Kotalik brushed off any suggestion he was going to use his time with the Flames as way to silence his detractors.
"I don't care about the critics. I don't even it or listen to it. I know what a player needs to be successful, especially a guy with a scoring past."
In his first practice back with the Flames, Kotalik played with Rene Bourque and Olli Jokinen
during line rushes. Bourque was pleased with the newly formed line and is looking forward to having locker room neighbor Kotalik back in action.
"The guys are happy to see him again. He's been through a lot this year. He's a good player. Hopefully we can get him back to where he was playing a few years ago. We need him to help us right now so hopefully he can step in and contribute and help our team get some wins."
When asked about why his stint in Abbotsford was so fruitful, he pointed out his confidence had bounced back to the level it was when he was 20+ goal scorer in the NHL.
"You always enjoy when you feel that you have some kind of importance to a team. I've been put in a situation down in Abbotsford to play a lot of minutes and in a lot of situations. That always helps anybody.
"I was trying to be a good professional and help that young team down there and at the same time, help myself. I've got a lot minutes played and I felt good. I was trying to create as much offence as I could. I felt good lately so hopefully I can bring it here. Play my game, compete and do things the right way."