All's well with return of Tabby

By Rick Bell (Sun Columnist)
Calgary Sun -- August 27, 1997

Rick Tabaracci sits smiling behind the wheel of his black BMW, the tunes playing in stereo.
"I've got country music and my black-and-tan coonhound. It's been one hectic summer but I'm back," says the goalie with the no-holds-barred style, the son of an Italian immigrant who painted cars in Toronto.
Tabby, as he's known to the fans who love him, is the goalie the Flames finally had the sense to bring back to the fold after sending him packing almost a year ago.
"Rommel is in Toronto but he'll be here in the next few weeks." Rommel is Tabby's coonhound -- and in this feverish time, he's been staying with Tabby's mom and dad.
Rommel likes Calgary. So does Tabby.
This day, in the parking lot of the Father David Bauer Arena, is so far away from last season's mysteries.
Tabby sitting in his room at Tampa's Doubletree Hotel after the Flames sent him away last November. Feeling the hurt as he headed out of the cold. Tears in the eyes and emotion in his voice.
"I'm Rent-A-Man. This is not where I wanted to be. I wish I could've stayed," he said from his Tampa room.
Tabby, the guy who came to life in Calgary and who fought and somehow lost the No. 1 job to Trevor Kidd, the up-and-down hockey haywire who the Flames put their money on but who never got it right.
A rejected Tabby, a fan favorite up here, stays in this Tampa hotel room two months. Rents a townhouse for three months. "I enjoyed the place but I could never call it home. Calgary is a different story."
A different story, indeed.
With the Flames flickering and the fans calling for Kidd's head, team management made a move to undo the damage they'd done. Draft day in June and the smart set at the team head office decide to bring Tabby back.
The goalie got the call in Maryland, where he was selling his house and spending five hours wrestling his Harley on to a U-Haul headed for hometown Ontario.
"Trading me to Tampa Bay was a business decision but I don't think it was a heartfelt decision. I don't think they had their heart in it 100 percent," Tabby pauses.
"It's pretty obvious. I'm back here."
Hopefully, in Tabby's eyes, for good.
Just three weeks after June's draft day, Tabby bought a house in west Hillhurst. He's slowly getting unpacked and getting settled. The gregarious goalie even had a chance to stop into Cowboys for a cool one.
"I love this city. I've decided this is home. I hope to play here long enough so it stays home.
"I didn't realize how much people appreciated me until I came back.
"I've felt tons of positive reactions and when I go out people come up and say: 'It's good to have you back.' The fans have been great to me. And I know they're one of the biggest reasons I'm back here."
Back. Funny how what goes around comes around.
After Monday's trade, players at Father David Bauer talk about Kidd shipping his truck to a new home in Carolina.
And Tabby's in the driver's seat.
The new No. 1 brushes it aside. "You don't gloat. That's not what it's all about. The job's not done."
Tabby turns on the ignition.
"I did stop chewing tobacco when I was gone."
The country music plays, a smile is on his face. Tabby is back where he belongs.

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