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Rittich inked new deal with Flames ahead of Saturday wedding

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Those life-changing 'Til-Death-Do-Us-Part vows aren't until Saturday.

A set of one-year nuptials were exchanged today.

"It's been busy,'' sighed David Rittich. "Talking to my agent about the contract, getting everything ready for the wedding …

"Two big things in one week. It wasn't easy."

Rittich and fiancée Nikola are set to tie the knot in front of 90 or so guests on the weekend, a reception to be held at a hotel not too far outside his hometown of Jihlava in the Czech Republic.

As with most soon-to-be husbands, the complexities of pulling all the infinite strands of a wedding together seemed quite daunting; more intimidating, surely, than Connor McDavid, sails fully unfurled, hurtling towards him a breakneck speed.

"Sending all your invitations to your friends, planning the food and the drinks, making sure of all the details …

"There's a lot to think about."

Any slight uncertainty of where he'll be come training camp time is at least out of the way. 

The one-year deal is worth $900,000 and provides the 25-year-old another opportunity to lay claim to the No.-2 puck-blocking job at the Scotiabank Sadddledome behind locked-in starter Mike Smith.

"I was pretty confident (of the contract),'' said Rittich. "I'm really excited to come back to Calgary and hopefully wear the jersey with the big C.

"I want to stay in Calgary. I love the city. I love the Flames' organization.

"They gave me a big opportunity. I'm grateful for that. Now I want to show them they were right."

After a one-game debut upon recall from the AHL Stockton Heat two seasons back, Rittich provided primary back-up support for Smith last year, going 8-6-3 with a .904 save percentage and 2.92 GAA in 22 appearances.

He also played in a dozen games for the Heat, going 7-5-0 record with a .889 SV% and a 3.18 GAA.

"Last year was my first time for a long time in NHL,'' Rittich said. "It's different. I saw where I had to improve and I mean, obviously, I have to work at everything. On the ice. Off the ice. I think I understand better now."

With training camp slightly more than a month away, it's anticipated that Rittich will friendly arm-wrestle Stockton sidekick Jon Gillies for the job of caddying for Smith.

"For sure, I want to be in the NHL. Stay in the NHL. No one wants to be in the minors for five years or however long," said Rittich. "When Smitty got hurt last year, I don't know if I felt anything different. Maybe a bit more pressure on me. But it wasn't too bad.

"I think all of the team, without Smitty, was a little down. He's such a great goalie.

"I opened my eyes last year, found out I had to work a little bit harder than before.

"That's what I've worked on this summer. Being more ready."

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