With Panthers again on the town, Jonathan Huberdeau nonetheless hoping to search out manner out of stoop

‘It’s not straightforward, clearly, not getting factors and stuff however we’re in an excellent stretch as a group in order that’s form of all that issues,’ Huberdeau stated

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Jonathan Huberdeau swears he didn’t have Monday’s recreation in opposition to the Florida Panthers circled on his calendar.

It’s totally different when the Calgary Flames are on the street and he’s again in Florida, the place he spent the primary decade of his NHL profession.

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However a house recreation in opposition to the Panthers on the Saddledome? That solely strikes the needle a lot.

“This recreation, it’s the identical factor, we’re at residence so it doesn’t change something,” Huberdeau stated Sunday. “Enjoying in opposition to acquainted faces however on the finish of the day, it’s a standard recreation. It has extra which means once we play in Florida, that’s extra particular.”

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That could be true, however with the Panthers on the town, it’s inevitable that individuals will wish to revisit the commerce that despatched Matthew Tkachuk to Florida and introduced Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Cole Schwindt again to Calgary.

And inevitably, which means there will likely be a renewed give attention to Huberdeau’s play.

Weegar’s recreation has grown by leaps and bounds since a sluggish begin in Calgary final season. Heading into Sunday’s motion, he’s scored eight instances this season and is now tied for second within the NHL in objectives by defencemen. Solely Vancouver Canucks star Quinn Hughes has extra, with 9.

Nonetheless solely 22 years previous, there’s optimism surrounding Schwindt’s future, too, though he’s enjoying within the AHL with the Calgary Wranglers nowadays.

Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar
Flames Jonathan Huberdeau (L) and MacKenzie Weegar throughout Calgary Flames coaching camp on the Saddledome in Calgary on Thursday, September 21, 2023. Jim Wells/Postmedia

However Huberdeau is struggling. He’s solely obtained 4 objectives and 11 assists via 31 video games this season, which places him on tempo for 39 factors over 82 video games. That’s not wherever close to what the Flames hoped for after they signed him to a deal that has him below contract for seven seasons after this one at a value of $10.5 million per yr.

The 30-year-old is working exhausting, however there have been extra valleys than peaks.

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“It’s not straightforward, clearly, not getting factors and stuff however we’re in an excellent stretch as a group in order that’s form of all that issues,” Huberdeau stated. “Clearly, I wish to be a part of it, however proper now it’s simply exhausting.

“On the finish of the day (working exhausting) is all I can do. If it doesn’t go my manner, it doesn’t go my manner. I’m not getting any breaks, however no excuses and clearly I wish to be there for my teammates and stuff. If we’re successful, that’s all that issues on the finish of the day.”

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The truth that Tkachuk thrived in his first season with the Panthers, scoring 40 objectives and including 69 assists and being a Hart Trophy finalist, after which led all of them the best way to the Stanley Cup Finals actually makes the deal look worse for the Flames.

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There’s no animosity from Huberdeau in direction of Tkachuk — who hasn’t been on the identical stage up to now this season — or any of his former teammates, however struggling to search out your recreation whereas the man you had been traded for thrives can’t be straightforward.

And it wasn’t a lot enjoyable watching the Panthers go on their run final yr, both.

Whereas the Flames handled the fallout of a disappointing season, firing head coach Darryl Sutter and seeing GM Brad Treliving depart for a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Panthers had been the toast of the hockey world.

“At that time I used to be like ‘who cares?’ “ Huberdeau stated. “It clearly would have harm in the event that they received, however on the identical time you are feeling unhealthy for the blokes who’re your pals and also you’ve performed with for a very long time and so they have the prospect to win the Stanley Cup for the primary time. It wasn’t straightforward, however on the finish of the day if they might have received they might have received.”

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