Among all the hustle and bustle and disappointment of last night’s 3-1 Calgary Flames loss to the Anaheim Ducks, several individuals connected with the club shared their thoughts not only on the series sweep by the Ducks but also the season as a whole. Rather than cram them into yesterday’s post-game coverage, we broke some of them out to share them with you.
The Flames’ captain returned to the NHL’s playoffs for the first time since 2007. When asked if the disappointment of the losses to Anaheim were important for the team’s younger players, he expanded the benefits a bit.
It’s important, I think, for all of us. For myself, too. Not being in playoffs for a long time, you realize how thin the margin is between winning and losing. And some nights it’s a bounce, some nights it’s a penalty, some nights it’s little things. And in this series, we had a little bit of everything and they found ways to win every game.
Versteeg had a really interesting last 12 months. He originally signed to play in Switzerland, but issues surrounding his past injuries complicated the insurance process and so he became a free agent once more. He went to Edmonton on a try-out, played the entire exhibition schedule and then signed with the Flames the day before the season began. Then he had one of his best seasons in years. The two-time Stanley Cup winner held court at his locker stall for awhile post-game, sans shirt, and shared his emotions on the series and season.
I’ve been part of sweeps before, for and against, and they were deserving. This one, this definitely wasn’t warranted. We played really good hockey, and sometimes it goes like that, bounces and timely goals. But man, I said this team has great young guys, all willing to learn, all willing to get better. You got a great coaching staff, they make it fun for you every day, you can see how it turned the season around early on when things were bleak. And man, you’ve got the best leader and one of the best leaders I’ve ever played with, and I’ve played with some darn good leaders. Blue skies ahead, but right now you kinda suck on the sour lemon and move on.
After three years as an assistant in Vancouver, Gulutzan got a second chance to be an NHL head coach this season with the Flames. After a terrible start, his team turned it around and managed to get into the playoffs – his first taste of the playoffs as an NHL bench boss. He shared some thoughts on what his team will learn from the whole experience.
We had some young guys step up, even from two years ago, against a really good team. What you’re going to learn from this series is you’re going to remember it, but where the learning comes from is the whole season. We’ve grown immensely as a group and we’ll learn about how much this stings. I thought our guys gave everything. Even more resolve when it gets to playoffs.