My approach doesn't change. As a person, as player, you come to the rink and you work as hard as you can every day to be the best player you can be and try to be a good teammate. With that, you help out your teammates with whatever they need. You're there for them. You're all in this together. That's the approach I've always taken and I'll keep doing that going forward. - Matt Stajan
CALGARY, AB -- When it became apparent that the Calgary Flames were interested in inking him to an extension, Matt Stajan had some decisions to make.
The 30-year-old was set to become an unrestricted free agent in July and if he opted to wait until the summer to make a decision about his future, there would be a great deal of uncertainty for him. The team could deal him before the NHL Trade Deadline, giving him a very good opportunity to play in the postseason, or he could test the free agent waters.
"It's something you think about, for sure. I'd be lying if I said that me and my wife didn't sit down and talk about it.
"But we love it here in Calgary. We're having our first baby in a few months. We want to be here for that. And I want to be part of something where you turn something around, grow it together to be successful."
The Flames rebuild, which may dissuade some players from staying or signing on, played a huge part in Stajan's decision to re-up with the organization. He fully understands what is going on with the team and knows there will be rough patches as the team makes changes and adds younger players to the lineup.
But the opportunity to be a part of something special and see the team make the strides it needs to be a competitor year-in, year-out, was something Stajan didn't want to pass up.
"At the end of the day, it's a little more of an accomplishment if you're a part of building something," he stated. "That's what the goal is here and I want to be a part of that. This city deserves that and I'm going to do my part to help that happen."
Over the past couple of years, Stajan has evolved into a more complete player and has earned a great deal of trust from Bob Hartley and the rest of the coaching staff. He has come a long way from his first two seasons with the Flames, when he was relegated to a small role and played limited minutes.
Having that added responsibility and knowing that the coaching staff and management have confidence in his abilities also played a large role in his decision.
"My time here in Calgary hasn't exactly always been the best of times, he acknowledged. "The first two years here were a rough go for myself. To be able to get more of an opportunity the last two years and embrace the role with the new coaching staff ... I've figured out what I need to do. What I need bring to the team. As a player, I'm not going to be a first line centre that puts up a huge number of points. I know my role.
"I'm going to kill penalties, play against the other teams top lines some nights and try to do a job. Obviously, I'm going to try and contribute in every aspect of the game, the best that I can. But I'm going to come to the rink and embrace the challenge that's given to me by the coaching staff."
Even with his decision made and a new four-year contract signed, the future still has a great deal of uncertainty. There is no set formula for a rebuild and what works for one team may not work for another. No one knows what the team will look like for the next few years but Stajan is content in his confidence that the organization is on the right path.
He will continue to go about his business the way he always has, providing leadership and stability while trying to push the Flames to success.
"My approach doesn't change," he said. "As a person, as player, you come to the rink and you work as hard as you can every day to be the best player you can be and try to be a good teammate. With that, you help out your teammates with whatever they need. You're there for them. You're all in this together. That's the approach I've always taken and I'll keep doing that going forward.
"I think the goal is to get better and better, every day, starting now. It has been since the start of the year. We keep taking steps toward that."