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With her past experiences in the city and family nearby, Calgary already feels like home for Brigitte Smith

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

This isn't like being asked to parachute into somewhere totally foreign.

"We have a bunch of crazy connections with Calgary,'' says Brigitte Smith.

"My sister (Lise-Marie) actually lives in Canmore. She has two kids, we have the four. I never get to see her. Now they get to see their cousins. My sister's husband Chris used to be the doctor for the Flames.

"I used to be a downhill skier, so I spent a ton of time in Calgary, training. So it's almost like it's this is a home-away-from-home.

"I feel like I'm doing a full 180.

"Our kids are super excited. They get to spend Canadian winters. We'll miss our friends in Scottsdale who've become family.

"But this is hockey. This is life right now, so you go with it."

As Brigitte Acton, the missus of new Flames' goaltender Mike Smith competed at both the 2006 Olympics and 2010 at Vancouver.

The couple and their four kids - Aksel, Ajax, Nixon and Kingsley - have spent the past six seasons in the Arizona desert. They're settled there but keen to see what Calgary offers.

"The moving part, your household and stuff, is never very fun,'' concedes Brigitte. "But in general, everything about coming to Calgary is very positive.

"We're Canadians and proud to be. And Mike being at a point in his career where he wants to win, coming to a team with all these positives, it's great.

"I know Mike, how much he wants to win, how every game he goes onto the ice - and ice is ice, it doesn't matter what game it is - he's in his zone."

That laser-beam intensity that Smith has become known on the ice for doesn't translate to game days before heading off to the rink.

"He's a family guy, with four kids at home so they're probably waking him up way earlier than he'd like.

"When it's time to go to the rink, that's when he goes and does his stuff. Other than that I think he's pretty normal."

The Smiths toured the Scotiabank Saddledome after flying into town Monday, beginning to set up shop with a team, in a (mostly) new town.

"Change is positive,'' says Brigitte. "It makes you grow as a person. You live different experiences, good and bad.

"You try and get the most out of life.

"We're just really excited about this. Everything is falling into place, in terms of finding somewhere to live and all that.

"It's been good."

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