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Teammates excited to have Gaudreau back

The Flames forward skated with his teammates Tuesday for the first time

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- Johnny Gaudreau measured up.

At first glimpse, at least.

To a teammate that's been waiting for his arrival for some time now.

"I saw his stick when I was here in July and it gives you an idea of how small he is," started Calgary Flames forward Troy Brouwer.

"But I think I was almost as tall as him when I was on one knee.

"He's a little guy but he moves well."

It's the first take from Brouwer, who signed a four-year deal with the Flames on July 1, on the 5-foot-9 Gaudreau, who signed a six-year pact with the Flames on Monday to end a contract stalemate just two days before opening the regular season against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.

The second take on Gaudreau, and his new contract?

"No more distraction, so that's good," said Brouwer, who was appointed as an alternate captain earlier Tuesday.

"To have one of your best players back is always a relief. I know business is business, but now we're past that and we're happy he's here.

"I think it really calms our team down now that he's here. Business is business, but it can wear on you and be a distraction. Now that it's not ... it took a little longer than some of the players would've liked, but we're just happy that he's here. He's excited that he's here now and we can just move on and look forward to [Wednesday] night."

Gaudreau, of course, paced Calgary in goals (30) and assists (48) last season, and was tied for sixth in the NHL with 78 points.

An impasse on a new contract jeopardized both his start with the Flames, and Calgary's start, with the regular season looming within 48 hours.

The cloud looms no more.

Johnny's back.

"I saw him this morning," said linemate Sean Monahan, who signed his seven-year agreement to stay in Calgary on Aug. 19. "First thing. I was actually sitting in the back lounge just sitting on the couch and he just walked in and I was the only guy in there. It was pretty funny. We both just smiled.

"It's real nice to have him back here.

"I never really had any doubt. You guys know Johnny. He loves to play hockey. The way he plays out there is exciting. He just wanted to play. That's the business side of things. I was sure something was going to get done.

"Obviously it did."

But not without a little stress.

For the player himself.

For the general manager.

And for the group that now shares the locker room.

"I think it's a relief for a lot of players and everyone in the organization," captain Mark Giordano said. "I'm happy that he's not going to miss any games and he's back out there. When one of your top players comes back in and gets back with the team it's a good day.

"I think when you're in a situation like that, as players you try to just put it out of your head and play, but it's always there. Thankfully it got done. Perfect timing…right before the season. He's been skating so he looks ready to go. We're happy to have him back. He's going to help our team immensely, for sure."

There was some doubt as to when that help would come.

Gaudreau became a restricted free agent July 1st.

July turned to August.

August to September.

September to October.

No deal. Just questions.

Until October 10th.

"It just feels like a big free-agent signing or something like that," Giordano said. "We just got a piece back you can't replace when he's out of the lineup. The first feeling was relief that it got done. We all knew it was going to eventually get done.

"The fact that he's not going to miss any games and he jumps right in there with us … the starts in this league are so important…it's big for our team.

"When I heard the news [Monday] night it was great."

Welcomed back with open arms.

If there was ever any doubt.

"It's nice to have him back," Monahan said. "Obviously he's a good friend and he's really going to help out our team. Having him back puts a smile back on everybody's faces.

"Mentally it was getting close to the season so you've got to move forward and think he's not going to be here but in my mind I thought something was going to get done. I talked to Johnny almost every day throughout the whole process and obviously I was on him to make sure he was going to be back here.

"When I found out the news I was really excited. I talked to him and he was back on a plane and back in Calgary.

"It was nice to see him today."

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