I’ve seen Calgary play this year and that’s their identity. They work hard. They never quit. That’s what I like. I’m really excited to be part of the Flames now. - Ladislav Smid
CALGARY, AB -- It didn’t take long for Ladislav Smid to get welcomed to the Calgary Flames by coach Bob Hartley.
In his first practice with the club on Sunday, Smid was introduced to the coach's ‘climbing the mountain’ drill, a skating exercise designed to both test and build stamina in his players.
Coming at the end of the lengthy session, Hartley signaled for the drill and put Smid and his new teammates through the 45-second sprint.
“That’s just part of the schedule,” Hartley said with a bit of a chuckle. “He should’ve been traded the day of a game. Sometimes timing works for you. Sometimes it doesn’t work for you."
The drill was the coach’s first opportunity to scribble down a time for Smid in his notepad, a black book used all season to chart his players’ times and progress.
But Smid didn’t flinch when lining up with 21 others -- sent off in groups of five -- to start the ascent.
“I guess I picked the right day,” he said, also with a chuckle. “I guess that’s how it is after a day off but it had a good pace and after a day off and a day flying, it was good to be back on the ice.”
Back on the ice, but with his new team for the first time, and surprisingly, the Frydlant, Czech Republic product already had an idea of what to expect from the Flames.
“I’ve seen Calgary play this year and that’s their identity,” he said. “They work hard. They never quit. That’s what I like. I’m really excited to be part of the Flames now.
“It’s a really hard working team here. They never quit in any games. I saw it on TV. I’ve watched a few games Calgary’s played. They really work hard.
“There are always going to be some corrections and you maybe get bad bounces but the one thing you can control is your effort and how hard you work. I think this team has that identity. I think it’s really, really great moving forward.”
Moving forward, Smid appears to be partnering up with Derek Smith. The two were paired together in Sunday’s skate.
Where he slots in -- and whether or not it's with Smith -- remains to be seen, though, Hartley indicated.
“Right now it’s too early to tell,” he said. “Obviously we went to get him for his defensive work, his toughness, but at the same time is he going to be a third, a fourth, a fifth, a six? I don’t know. We’ll let him get used to us. We’ll get used to him. We’ll put him in is strengths right now.”
After spending his entire National Hockey League career three hours north of Calgary, Smid will understandably need some time to get used to Hartley and the Flames. Having played under five coaches in his 474-game career with the Oilers, though, Smid has experience adjusting to new orders and systems.
How quickly he can adjust to one more is his first challenge with the Flames.
“We’ll see how fast I’m going to adapt,” he said. “I hope it won’t take long. I already had some meetings with the coaches and I think I’m going to have some more [Monday] and then Tuesday is a game day.