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Shoring up the blueline

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
CALGARY, AB -- When free agency opened on July 1st, one of the biggest names on the market was defenceman Scott Hannan.

A tough, durable top-four blueliner, Hannan brings a defence-first mindset to the table whose dependable style of play would please any coach.

However, 43 days later, he was still available.

"We wanted to make sure we picked a good fit," he said when asked about length of time it took him to sign with a club. "I wanted to be part of a team that was committed to winning and had a good chance to make a good run in the playoffs."

The veteran rearguard signed a one-year deal with the Calgary Flames on Aug. 13 worth $1 million. It's a significant pay cut from the $4.5 million he made last season and general manager Jay Feaster noted it shows just how much Hannan wanted to play for the team.

"He has demonstrated his commitment to our organization and his desire to be a part of our team by agreeing to a contract that enables us to fit him under the salary cap. We are very pleased to add him to the Flames family, and we look forward to his contributions to our success both on and off the ice."

Hannan spoke at great lengths with both Feaster and head coach Brent Sutter and after hearing what direction they planned on taking the team, the blueliner knew he wanted to sign on in Calgary.

"Talking to Brent and talking to Jay and knowing the players they had on the team and seeing what they did towards the last half of the season, it was an exciting team. To be able to come and be apart of that with a team that is committed to winning is exciting."

After trading Robyn Regehr to Buffalo and with the Flames backend loaded with offensive blueliners, adding a staunchly defensive player was a must in Feaster's list of off-season priorities.

The Richmond, BC native is a pure defensive defenceman and is extraordinarily reliable in his own end. Despite being relied upon to face off against the league's best players, Hannan has only been in the minus column once in his 10 year career.

He's also an extremely adept penalty killer and will likely be a key cog in the Flames first unit this season - something Regehr was known for during his tenure with the team.

Hannan understands there will comparisons between him and Regehr and while that may be intimidating for some, he doesn't feel any extra pressure. In fact, he enjoys the comparisons.

"He's (Regehr) a great player and he did great things for the organization but I'm going to come in and just play my game, do what I can do. That's all I can really take care of but I like those situations with that type of pressure."

Hannan also brings a wealth of experience to the club. With 10 full seasons under his belt - nine and half coming in the highly competitive Western Conference - the 32 year old is a player Sutter can deploy in any situation and feel comfortable.

"Throughout the summer we have consistently said that we were not yet finished adding to our hockey club," Feaster said. "And while we have great confidence that one of our second-year prospects or quality depth defencemen we added this off-season will step-up and make our hockey team in training camp, we have also recognized the need for some veteran leadership at that position.

"Scott not only brings a wealth of experience to our blueline, but he also brings a great deal of knowledge about the Western Conference in general and our Division in particular."

This season will mark the first time Hannan has played for a Canadian team. With two straight seasons in the books without a postseason game played, the city is anxious and while players are always under the microscope, this year will no doubt see a higher level of scrutiny placed upon every member of the team.

The pressure-cooker that is the city of Calgary doesn't intimidate Hannan at all. He relishes the opportunity to play in a market where success is demanded, not politely requested.

"It's exciting to be able to come into a market that's so driven and the fans are so passionate, to be able to be a part of that and to be there and play in front of fans like that, I love it.

"I can't wait to start."

Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson
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