I want to be a part of what’s going on here. We have a lot of promise with the young guys. I just want to see this through. I think with (Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke) coming in and righting the ship right now and seeing what he’s done with previous teams, I’d love to be a part of this. - Matt Stajan
SAN JOSE, CA -- Matt Stajan has designs on being a member of the Calgary Flames for the long haul.
Following a report from CBC’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting a contract extension was on the way for Stajan, the pending unrestricted free agent admitted Monday that he’d like to ink a new pact and remain in Calgary.
“We’re in discussions,” Stajan said. “I haven’t signed anything yet but I’d love to be back here and we’re working towards it.
“I want to be a part of what’s going on here. We have a lot of promise with the young guys. I just want to see this through. I think with (Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke) coming in and righting the ship right now and seeing what he’s done with previous teams, I’d love to be a part of this. My family loves it in Calgary. Hopefully we can get something done here.”
Stajan, who was acquired on Jan. 31, 2010 from the Toronto Maple Leafs, is in the final season of a four-year, $14 million contract.
Coach Bob Hartley would be more than comfortable having him back for more.
“Staj, he’s a great leader,” said Hartley. “I have lots of faith, lots of trust in Staj. On the ice, he’s a true pro. Off the ice, he takes care of himself, takes care of everyone. I think that he found a niche with us. He feels good. He feels comfortable. We do the same. “
In terms of career games played, Stajan’s 693 are the most among any Flames skater and in Calgary, he’s amassed 29 goals and 105 points in 248 contests.
But it’s not in the points where the value lies in the 6-foot-1, 192-pound pivot.
Instead of rookies Joe Colborne and Sean Monahan squaring off against the opposition’s top players, it’s Stajan who has drawn the unenviable task of keeping the league’s top offensive threats at bay.
In other words, there are no games off for Stajan.
“On the ice, he plays in tough situations,” Mark Giordano said. “He’s not always going to be the guy who gets the limelight defensively. He’s always playing penalty kill situations, d-zone draws. He really brings that element to the game, that defensive role, plays against other team’s top lines. His vision and his passing are pretty cool too, pretty special player when he gets to the offensive zone, he can make some really nice plays.
“He’s by far I think one of the underrated guys in the league.”
An underrated leader, too.
With a young core down the middle featuring a 19-year-old Monahan, 23-year-old Colborne and Mikael Backlund (24), Stajan’s leadership becomes all the more valuable on a team that is in Year One of a rebuilding program.
And that’s not lost on Colborne.
“Never once has he not had the time for you,” he said. “He's one of those guys that just brings a team together. Every single guy that you talk, whether it's my old teammates on the Leafs who played with him or guys around the league, they have so much respect for him, as the player he is on the ice and also the guy off the ice.
“He's a guy that I think the world of, personally, and I know a bunch of the other guys do in the room, as well.”