Sunday, September 13, 2009

The announcement(s) you've all been waiting for

When news of the Heatley trade broke early Saturday afternoon, it was only second nature for many writers to double-check the news after multiple false alarms throughout the summer. It's official, folks. The Senators organization and the city of Ottawa let out a collective sigh of relief as Heatley packed his bags and headed for the Shark Tank, citing the always trusty "personal reasons" for his discontent in the Nation's capital. I am now taking bets as to what those reasons may have been: knocked up a local TV personality? Slept with a teammate's significant other? General case of dressing room cancer? The list could go on and on.

I am not going to waste my time analyzing Murray's return in the deal, as he had to significantly lower his asking price for the two-time fifty goal scorer as the summer wore on and no prospective takers emerged. According to the Heatley camp, San Jose had been the desired destination from the start, and with their well-documented cap issues, it's a miracle Murray managed to swing a deal. A change of scenery may very well work wonders for former Rocket Richard winner Jonathan Cheechoo, who managed just twenty-nine points in an injury-riddled 2008-09 campaign, and underachieving Milan Michalek, who never fails to disappoint me in my playoff pool, but I digress.

In Flames-related news, training camp officially began yesterday with the veterans reporting to fitness training at 7 AM (yikes), the most notable addition being none other than former Flame Theoren Fleury, who received an invite to Flames camp Friday after being reinstated by the NHL on Thursday. Fleury had nothing but good things to say about Darryl Sutter and the Flames organization, stating, "I am just super happy, first of all, that I got cleared and, second of all, to earn a tryout with the team that I’ve had tattooed on my heart since my Moose Jaw days.” That's enough to give any Flames fan the warm fuzzies.

Craig Conroy, never one to be short on words, sang Fleury's praises in the Calgary Herald, saying, "He looks good. Everything looks good. He's working hard, came in here in great shape. He's been doing everything you could possibly do to get in shape. He looks ready to go. He can still score goals, if Westside is any indication." TSN's Calgary correspondent Jermaine Franklin even joked with Jarome Iginla that Fleury was back to reclaim his scoring records. Jarome laughed it off, but I think he's a little nervous. While Fleury will probably spend most of the season in Abbotsford if he does make the cut, he's quick to point out that he has no expectations for how his comeback bid will pan out, and doesn't want to regret not going for it while he had the opportunity.

The most encouraging news to come out of Day 1 of training camp was that new head coach Brent Sutter plans to cut Kiprusoff's workload, as he was quoted saying, "At this point in time, I certainly wouldn't expect him to play as many games as he has. You need your goaltenders to play well for you and it's got to be both guys." As I said before, I like this guy already. According to the Flames Insider, Kipper hired a personal trainer in the off-season and followed a workout routine given to him by Flames strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh.

Does this mean we will see a fitter, more inspired Kiprusoff when the puck drops for real on October 1st? Flames goaltending coach and former teammate Jamie McLennan attributes the goalie's "slow starts" to simply adjusting to the new players on the roster and the time it takes to develop chemistry, and believes that he "takes the brunt" of the team's lack of cohesion early in the season. With a new bench boss at the helm, hopefully we will see this disturbing trend come to a halt and the Flames will come charging out of the gate, ruthlessly demolishing the opposition. Hopefully.

In honour of Fleury's possible return, I rustled up this famous clip from Game 6 of the Oilers series in 1991:
Welcome back Theo.

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