‘A heck of a participant’: Former teammates consider Flames' Huberdeau will flip it round

Huberdeau, who turned 30 in June, hasn’t lacked accountability. What’s lacked is influence on the scoresheet

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The manufacturing doesn’t match the value tag.

Jonathan Huberdeau realizes that.

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Huberdeau is just some months into the biggest contract in Calgary Flames franchise historical past — an eight-year whopper that carries an annual cap hit of $10.5 million US.

Heading into Monday’s matchup towards his former workforce, he additionally was on tempo for a career-low 40 factors.

“Clearly, I feel I’ve earned this contract, however you continue to must earn it after that,” stated Huberdeau, who was coming off a record-setting season — a brand new benchmark for probably the most assists by an NHL left-winger — when he was traded to the Flames in July 2022 and shortly after put pen to paper on that doozy of a deal.

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“I attempt to not put strain as a result of it hasn’t been straightforward. So I attempt not to consider the contract.”

Huberdeau’s struggles had been spotlighted once more Monday as Matthew Tkachuk and the Florida Panthers paid a go to to the Saddledome.

The slumping Flames ahead spent the primary decade of his profession within the Sunshine State, the place he blossomed into one of many NHL’s most dynamic offensive skills and most dazzling playmakers.

These within the C of Crimson are, understandably, questioning if that man obtained misplaced on the way in which to Calgary.

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Huberdeau, who turned 30 in June, hasn’t lacked accountability. He has repeated time and again that he expects extra from himself.

What’s lacked is influence on the scoresheet. He definitely hasn’t regarded like a man who piled up 115 factors — together with 85 helpers — in his last winter with the Panthers. Or perhaps a man who averaged 1.12 PPG in three seasons main as much as that.

The Flames didn’t foresee this form of drop-off.

His former buddies weren’t anticipating it both.

Because the Panthers fetched Monday’s pre-game stats package deal, they discovered Huberdeau ranked eleventh amongst Flames with 4 targets and tenth with 15 factors via 31 contests. As they checked the lineup board, they discovered him listed as a third-liner alongside a pair of shutdown-first forwards in Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman.

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“He’s most likely one of the vital proficient guys that I’ve ever performed with,” stated Panthers ahead Sam Bennett, a well-recognized face round these components and now a fan favorite in Florida. “I beloved my time taking part in with him. He helped me deliver my recreation to the subsequent degree, really.

“And clearly I find out about struggles in Calgary, too. It may be robust. It could drag on you. Generally, it looks like when issues aren’t going your means, the strain builds and will get worse and worse. Positively, I really feel some sympathy for him, however I feel he’s a heck of a participant. I nonetheless consider he has the skills to show all the pieces round.”

Sam Bennett
Sam Bennett #9 of the Florida Panthers shoots towards the Seattle Kraken throughout the first interval at Local weather Pledge Area on December 12, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. Steph Chambers/Getty Pictures

For Bennett, the strain he was feeling in seven campaigns in Calgary was primarily tied to his draft standing. The Flames had by no means chosen as excessive as fourth general earlier than they referred to as his identify at that slot in 2014.

For Huberdeau, the strain comes from his previous accomplishments, from the blockbuster commerce he was part of and from his paycheques. He’ll be amassing $10.5 million per season via the top of 2030-31.

“If you happen to don’t have strain on you, you’re not an influence participant,” Flames coach Ryan Huska stated when requested about his highest-paid participant. “That’s one thing that he can flip round and flip it so it’s a constructive factor for him.

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“That’s most likely the recommendation I might give him — ‘It’s factor, since you are an influence participant. And also you wish to be that kind of participant. So now it’s nearly going and taking part in and trusting who you might be.’”

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Flames followers, whereas thrilled with the latest performances from ex-Panthers rearguard MacKenzie Weegar, hold ready for a glimpse of the previous Huberdeau.

They’re anxious this is perhaps the getting-older Huberdeau.

“Generally, when gamers who count on to attain aren’t scoring, there’s an inclination to assume that’s all they’re,” Huska pressured after Monday’s morning skate, sharing a message that he has seemingly handed alongside to No. 10 on quite a few events. “However there’s extra to his recreation than simply that. He brings different issues to the desk, and generally it’s vital for him to keep in mind that too.”

Within the Panthers’ locker room, they bear in mind what Huberdeau is able to. They don’t have a nasty phrase to say about their former teammate.

“I feel generally while you change surroundings, it’s actually not straightforward,” Panthers centre Sam Reinhart stated previous to this showdown with the Flames. “He’s such a constructive particular person, however you understand it eats away at anyone. I want him all of the success and I do know he’s going to do all he can to battle via and put together the fitting means.

“You hope he comes out of it. He’s such a proficient participant and such particular person, so that you all the time hope for the most effective for him. Hopefully not tonight, however after that.”

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WestJet's historical past, from plucky startup to world participant

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One other chapter within the historical past of Calgary-based WestJet is about to be written, with the airline’s pilots issuing a 72-hour strike discover and the corporate responding with a lockout discover. Many travellers are frightened the airline could possibly be shut down earlier than the Could lengthy weekend, however some stay hopeful last-minute negotiations may forestall disruptions to journey plans. Right here’s a timeline of great occasions in WestJet’s historical past through the years:

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1996 – Calgary-based startup airline WestJet takes first flight, as a low-cost various to the nation’s main airways. The corporate has three plane, affords 5 locations and has 220 workers.

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1999 – WestJet goes public, with an IPO held June 13, 1999. Shares went on sale at $10, and by 12 months finish have been valued at $18.

2000 – WestJet strikes into jap Canada, including Ottawa and Moncton as locations, with Hamilton as its jap hub.

2002 – WestJet targets the enterprise journey marketplace for the primary time, including Toronto and London, Ont., to its community.

2004 – WestJet provides U.S. locations to the combination; travellers can now fly to New York Metropolis, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa.

2006 – WestJet goes worldwide, including service to the Bahamas. It additionally launches WestJet Holidays, providing reasonably priced, dependable and simple reserving of trip packages.

2009 – WestJet opens its new Calgary headquarters, a $100-million constructing close to Calgary Worldwide Airport.

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2012 – WestJet takes supply of its one centesimal Boeing 737 Subsequent Technology plane.

2012 – WestJet Encore launches. The regional provider goals to attach under-served smaller cities utilizing a fleet of Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop planes.

2013 – WestJet indicators letter of intent to buy 65 new Boeing 737 MAX plane.

2014 – WestJet takes its first transAtlantic flight, introducing seasonal continuous service to Dublin, Eire.

2015 – WestJet takes supply of 4 wide-body Boeing 767 plane, laying the groundwork for worldwide growth. It welcomes 20-million friends this 12 months, a brand new document.

2016 – WestJet celebrates its twentieth anniversary and launches its first wide-body transatlantic flight to London-Gatwick.

2018 – WestJet unveils its new Boeing Dreamliner. It’s a serious milestone for the corporate, which is able to take possession of 10 787s by 2021, with an choice to purchase 10 extra.

Westjet’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner was opened up for media in Calgary to take a look at the interior on Feb. 14, 2019. This is the economy section of the plane.
Westjet’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner was opened up for media in Calgary to check out the inside on Feb. 14, 2019. That is the economic system part of the aircraft. Photograph by Gavin Younger

2019 – Non-public fairness agency Onex Corp. indicators a pleasant deal to purchase WestJet in a transaction valued at $5 billion. WestJet’s headquarters will stay in Calgary. Additionally in 2019, WestJet unveils its new 787 Dreamliner, increasing its world attain.

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2020 — The COVID-19 pandemic hits the aviation business laborious and most leisure journey is suspended. A whole bunch of plane are grounded. WestJet works to deliver stranded Canadians house, by way of 28 repatriation flights to 14 totally different worldwide locations. WestJet Cargo is stored busy with its work to assist fight provide chain points.

The number of parked WestJet Boeing 737 planes slowly grew at the Calgary International Airport amid the COVID-19 pandemic on April 21, 2020.
The variety of parked WestJet Boeing 737 planes slowly grew on the Calgary Worldwide Airport amid the COVID-19 pandemic on April 21, 2020. Gavin Younger/Postmedia

2021 — WestJet turns 25. From three plane with 5 locations, it’s grown to about 180 plane and greater than 100 locations in 23 international locations. Then-CEO Ed Sims publicizes his retirement, with the corporate praising Sims for main the airline by way of the pandemic — “the worst disaster in aviation historical past.” A brand new CEO is introduced — Alexis von Hoensbroech.

2022 — New WestJet uniforms are unveiled for workers, that includes a wide range of choices for a variety of particular person types and identities. YYC introduced as world connecting hub for complete 787 Dreamliner fleet.

2023 — New spring routes embrace Calgary to Japan.

Could 15, 2023 — WestJet pilots problem a 72-hour strike discover; the corporate responds with a lockout discover.

WestJet pilots held an informational picket at the Calgary International Airport on Monday, May 8, 2023.
WestJet pilots held an informational picket on the Calgary Worldwide Airport on Monday, Could 8, 2023. Gavin Younger/Postmedia

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