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SECOND CHANCE FOR OLSEN

Calgary kid excited to get shot with Flames after signing PTO

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

The father's tenure in Flames' livery turned out to be a one-off.

Right now, the son would settle for that in a heartbeat and see where it might take him.

"When I told him,'' reports Dylan Olsen, "he had the biggest smile on his face and gave me a hug.

"He told me: 'This is your second chance. You'd better take it and run with it.'

"I couldn't be happier.

"I mean, this is the team my dad played his only NHL game for. The team I grew up cheering for.

"Scott Stevens was my favourite defenceman as a kid, but Dion Phaneuf was right up there, too."

On fitness-evaluation day out at Winsport, it'd be a chore identifying anyone more pumped than the 26-year-old Olsen, arriving here at camp on a PTO, slotted into the last testing group of the afternoon but nevertheless feeling the luckiest guy on the planet.

Only 16 or so months ago, a shoulder injury suffered during the Portland Pirates' AHL playoffs series hadn't healed sufficiently enough by fall for him to attend any training camp.

Meaning he's spent the last year in limbo.

"I mean, I couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity,'' Olsen said. "For me, this is huge. Just huge."

His dad, Darryl, an assistant coach for the AJHL's Calgary Canucks, received a lone NHL opportunity on a minor-league call-up, donning the Flaming C after all-star D-man Gary Suter injured a knee.

Calgary lost that game 4-3 to Detroit at the Dome on Dec. 14, 1991.

Olsen was born in Salt Lake City while pop was toiling for the Flames' IHL farm team there. But he was reared here, in the city's Northeast.

"When you have to take a year off, it hurts you,'' said Olsen. "I mean, take two weeks off and it hurts you. But a year …

"Playing in the NHL is something you dream about as a kid. Fortunately for me I've been there before. After a year off my goal is to get back because it's the lifestyle I've always wanted."

A first-round draft pick, 28th overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks, his NHL career has not yet fired to life. He logged 28 games for the Hawks and then 96 for Florida over three seasons after being traded to the Panthers that sent, among others, Kris Versteeg back to the Windy City.

Olsen is certainly a broth of a lad, standing 6-foot-2 and tipping the Toledos at 223 lb.

"Sometimes,'' reasoned Flames' GM Brad Treliving, "you can get too much too soon. Maybe that happened to Dylan. He went through some challenges, in his life, in his game.

"He didn't play last year. Still a relatively young guy. Big guy. Thinks the game good.

"A little bit of a wild card. We'll see."

Stockton Heat coach Ryan Huska knows Olsen from the 2012 World Junior Championships in Buffalo. They were both part of Canada's silver-medal winning contingent.

"Everything I remember about him is positive,'' said Huska on Thursday. "At that time, Dylan was the only guy, if I remember correctly, that came to us from an NCAA program. So I found him to be a quieter guy early on. He kinda had to feel his way around, get himself in with the group of CHL (players).

"In regards to his game-play, he was very steady for us, used as a heavier, physical, stay-at-home guy who kept things simple.

"A real reliable guy for us."

There's no risk involved in the Flames in all of this, of course. Should Olsen show enough to warrant a contract, it'd be like finding a $100 bill on the pavement while walking the dog.

"Sometimes when you have a guy coming in this type of situation it's almost like a trade deadline deal,'' said Huska. "It's really a bonus if he stays. "Whether or not this affects our group in Stockton, that'll depend on how Dylan plays. But he's got an NHL resume. He was a high pick, well-thought of.

"We're pulling for him. From my dealings with Dylan in the past he's a good young man, a very hard-working guy and you always want to see players you've spent a little bit of time with have success.

"He is one of those guys."

No promises. No guarantees.

But the only thing Olsen knows is that he's got another shot.

"My agent's been in talks with teams all summer and he kept telling me the Flames were one that's always been interested.

"So we worked on it, worked on it and then two days ago he called me and said: 'We might have an opportunity here with Calgary. If they give you a call, you'd better be ready.'

"And sure enough, (Tuesday), that call came. Pretty surreal.

"Having this second chance is … incredible. It doesn't happen very often so I'm going to do all I can while I'm here."

 

 

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