The Calgary Flames hit the ice for the first time in training camp on Monday with a different look after adding new some new players through free agency.
Jacob Markstrom, the team's biggest free agent catch, who inked a six0year, $36 million contract with the Flames in the offseason, said he’s excited to finally hit the ice for camp after a long stretch of isolated, pandemic-era workouts.
“You feel right away the excitement comes up and the tempo comes up and the shots come in a little harder and everybody wants it a little bit more,” Markstrom said.
“So I’m happy the camp has started here and I’m excited for a couple of scrimmages before we head on the road and play Winnipeg.”
As he did in Florida and Vancouver, Markstrom will wear number 25 with the Flames. That’s Joe Nieuwendyk’s old number and Markstrom made sure he went through the proper channels before pulling on that jersey.
“I asked for permission from the team and I also asked for his number. I called and asked him if it was okay to wear it, just to show him some respect and (with me) coming to a new team. He said he was totally fine with it and he appreciated the call.”
Another former Canuck didn’t have to go far to get his familiar number.
Jusso Valimaki switched to number six so new Flame ChrisTanev could wear number eight with the Flames.
For the first day of camp, Tanev was paired with Flames captain Mark Giordano.
Tanev says he’d love to play with Giordano this season.
“Just from practicing and skating together you can see how good of a stick he has. I think we read off each other and see the game well together,” Tanev said.
“So far it’s been nice skating with him," Tanev added, "and as we get into more serious games and scrimmages, I think that will only get better.”
Tanev isn’t used to playing with another veteran. In Vancouver, Tanev played mostly with the teams' young blueliners.
Flames head coach Geoff Ward says that still may happen here.
“You know we understand exactly what Chris’s role was in Vancouver and how he played there," Ward said. "And probably by the end of camp, you may see him with some younger guys. But today we really wanted to have him and Gio (Giordano) together just so that when we did the bulk of our penalty-killing they could be together.”
The Flames don’t have much time to decide who plays with who. The regular season is just around the corner.
The Flames open up in Winnipeg on January 14th. They play their home opener at the Scotiabank saddledome two nights later when they host the Vancouver Canucks.