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Training camp notebook

by Peter Zuurbier / Calgary Flames
Flames traning camp is one very busy time with three groups hitting the ice every day to absorb head coach Brent Sutter's systems and expectations. Here's a round-up of what was seen and heard around the Pengrowth Saddledome on Day 3 of training camp 2009.

Theo's reflections

Following his second full day on the ice, Theoren Fleury looked as spry and energetic as he did following fitness testing earlier in the week. When asked about what advice the 41-year-old Fleury would give to his younger incarnation, he emphasized the importance of year-round preparation as the key to sustained success.

"The summer 's now are probably the most important time of year, you need to prepare yourself. Each guy is a business within the business, your training and what you do off the ice is an investment for when you get here in September to get ready for camp."

Curtis Glencross, who skated on a line with Fleury during Monday's practice, has been impressed with what he's seen.

"(Fleury) gets more and more comfortable, and everytime he gets on the ice his timing gets better... He's great with the puck, and he's got great vision out there."

McElhinney ready for more

Last season, the Flames backup goaltender, Curtis McElhinney, saw limited action, and the games he did play in were often blowout losses or the second game of a back-to-back situation.

McElhinney's new coach will likely be calling upon him more frequesntly though. Last season as coach of the New Jersey Devils Brent Sutter learned first-hand the need to have multiple 'keepers game-ready, as his No. 1 goalie, Martin Brodeur, went down for the season.

"My expectations this season are obviously to play a few more games, not a set number, but certainly more than I've played in the last year and a half," said McElhinney, who admitted he had no interest in suiting up elsewhere for this season.

"I feel comfortable here, and despite the fact I've played in a limited number of games the last couple of years I still think there's a good opportunity here."

Bourque easing into action

Last season saw a number of Flames put forth breakout performances on the ice. Acquired from Chicago last offseason, perhaps no player experienced a bigger breakthrough than Rene Bourque. The Lac La Biche, AB native scored 21 goals and 40 points in only 51 games before missing the remainder of the regular season with an ankle injury. Bourque has been yellow-shirted so far in camp, meaning he does not take part in any contact drills.

"I feel pretty good, I just wanted to get a few days on my own without contact as a precaution. I don't seeit as a problem as far as the regular season. I'm going to sit out the first few exhibition games and get my confidence back, I haven't played a lot in the last seven or eight months so it's just about getting into a rhythmn, getting stronger from skating everyday," said Bourque, who anticipates being fully ready for the season opener.

"I just want to build where I left off last season. We lost a lot of goals from Cammy and Bert being gone, so it's up to guys like Glenny, and Mosser, and myself to pick up where we left off and build on our strong seasons from last year."

Pardy in the front

The Flames entered training camp with one of the deepest groups of defensemen in the NHL. With the top spots on the blueline all but spoken for, playing time may be skint for those at the back of the depth chart.

One way to free up space in the backend may be to play Adam Pardy at forward on occasion. As the bodies fell last year, Pardy was thrust into the dual role out of necessity, and performed admirably when called upon. The consummate tema player, Pardy is read to earn whatever role he is handed, and onctribute in whatever way necessary.

"If (playing forward) happens, I've got to be ready for that opportunity. I've got to work for it, I've got to earn it and take advantage of it... If I can get the job done, then it's a good thing for the team"

Valuable experience

Jason Jaffray was one of the veterans who reported early for camp with the rookies. Though the experience was a bit strange for the veteran forward, he found the foundational knowledge he gathered in the early seeeions invaluable.

"It was a tough couple of days, but the last half of each practice seemd to be system work, and it seemed like we were showing the veterans what to do a little bit so far in main camp. I think I understand the system, one of the things that goes well with my game is I can be easily taught," said Jaffray, who used to play under assistant coach Ryan McGill in his junior days. According to Jaffray, the coaches intensity hasn't weathered at all since they were last together.

"He's still the same style of coach, very hard-nosed, it goes his way or the highway... You want to make sure you're on the good end of that one."

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