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Tkachuk Still Prowls; Huberdeau Swagger Key To Future Flames Success



First, the Calgary Flames’ offseason trade with the Florida Panthers was declared a marginal win for the Flames.

After the Flames inked both Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar to long-term extension, it was a landslide victory.

But now that Matthew Tkachuk is a Conn Smythe candidate who has the Panthers four wins shy of the Stanley Cup, the court of public hockey opinion — a.k.a. Hockey Twitter — suggests the opposite.

It’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of world.

And while Weegar did plenty at the IIHF World Hockey Championships to show he’s ready to take a leap forward in Year 2 with the Calgary Flames, we won’t find out what Huberdeau’s next move will be until the fall.

The franchise is hoping the soon-to-be 30-year-old winger can bounce back in a big way. Former Flames GM Brad Treliving inked Huberdeau to the richest contract in Flames history last summer, but the player didn’t mesh with then head coach Darryl Sutter.

After Huberdeau broke a record with the biggest offensive dip in NHL history, the Flames doubled down by firing Sutter. You can bet Huberdeau’s thoughts on the characteristics of his ideal coach will be considered as new GM Craig Conroy searches for Sutter’s replacement.

“I want to talk to him and hear his thoughts, see what went wrong this year,” Conroy said last week. “I wasn’t at the year-end meetings, so I didn’t hear what Huby actually said. So, I’d like to sit down and talk to him and pick his brain and see where he’s at.

Conroy wants to see swagger from Flames star Huberdeau

“I want to see him bring that swagger back. I could see him downstairs (at the Saddledome) and I’d talk to him and you felt like he felt bad. No, don’t feel bad. You know what? Bring that swagger.”

You saw it at times, especially later in the season, but there wasn’t much confidence as Huberdeau struggled through an identity crisis.

All eyes will be on the former 115-point player come fall. Even more so if Tkachuk claims the Stanley Cup with Huberdeau’s former Panthers.

With a new GM, new coach and culture, fans hope they see a new Huberdeau next season.

Conroy has confidence he’ll return to top tier status.

“He’s a proud guy and he wants to do well, there is no doubt in my mind,” Conroy said. “He’s probably training already getting ready for next season.

“As a player, you know when you have a good season and a bad season, and you’re not going to blame it on anybody. You know it, and you want to prove them wrong the next year.”

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