For Walker Duehr’s family, it’s the ultimate do-over. The Calgary Flames prospect made his second NHL appearance in Tuesday’s visit to St. Louis, but it’s the first his family could attend thanks to the lingering COVID rules in place last season.
And the crew from South Dakota made the most of it, driving over in droves.
His parents, his brother and his sister-in-law, his fiancé and her parents, and his hockey billet family all made sure not to miss this one.
Travel plans were made as soon as Duehr found out he’d be suiting up. The team lost in the first of five games on the road with a 4-3 overtime decision in Chicago.
“Nothing they’re not used to. My parents have been lugging me around since I was a kid,” Duehr told reporters in St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon.
“I think it could have been anywhere in the States or anywhere, honestly, in the NHL and they probably would have tried to make their way there. I’m excited they can be there.
“My parents have made more sacrifices than probably a lot to get me here. For them to be here tonight and for them to experience that tonight I’m sure will be something they’ll remember forever.”
The Debut Do-Over is Duehr’s chance to show the Calgary Flames coaches why he is having such a good season with the AHL Calgary Wranglers.
With 10 goals and 16 points through 31 games, he’s shown he’s capable of scoring some goals while creating some havoc on the ice. He’s got speed, size, and some sandpaper, which made him a nice fit for the fourth line alongside Trevor Lewis and Adam Ruzicka in St. Louis.
It may also make him a favourite of Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter.
While the smaller, more offensively gifted Jakob Pelletier watched from the press box again on Tuesday, Duehr’s debut made gamblers picking which prospect would play first some decent coin.
Duehr wasn’t worried about the jump into Sutter’s system because of the way the Wranglers play.
"The coaching staff down with the Wranglers does a great job emulating the same systems and preaching the same terminology that they use up here,” Duehr said. “It's a pretty seamless transition. Just go over some stuff that they do a little different, but yeah, for the most part, it's a pretty easy transition."