Fleury, Tabby big winners
By Eric Duhatschek - Calgary Herald
August 27, 1997
In the final analysis, the biggest winners in Monday's blockbuster trade with the Carolina Hurricanes may be Theo Fleury, the Calgary Flames' ex-captain, and Rick Tabaracci, the new No. 1 goaltender.
Fleury will be delighted with the deal because it essentially removes from the Flames' picture all the people with whom he'd previously conflicted.
Gary Roberts used to nag him all the time about his conditioning levels. Trevor Kidd never did get over Fleury's post-season comment that "eventually, we're going to need to get some goaltending."
Nor did Fleury ever see eye-to eye with ex-coach Pierre Page, someone he thought was too detail-oriented.
Page's gone too, replaced by a coach -- Brian Sutter -- whom Fleury knows and admires. Additionally, there's not one but two left-handed centremen on the roster (Andrew Cassels and Michael Nylander), both of whom can get him the puck.
Essentially, the Flames have removed all the possible distractions and/or excuses from Fleury's hockey-playing life.
Their expectation is he will respond to their initiatives with a much-improved season.
As for Tabaracci, Kidd's departure means he has a chance to achieve a personal goal-- to finally play on opening night, for the first time in his career.
"It's an outstanding opportunity, it really is," Tabaracci agreed Tuesday. "But with that, comes a lot of pressure. I was in that position last year (in Tampa) and I enjoyed it. It's great to be the guy they call on every night. It's a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it again."
The Flames' plan, with newly acquired goaltending sensation Jean-Sebastien Giguere, is not to push him too hard too fast.
They saw what happened in Montreal with Jocelyn Thibault, who made his NHL debut at 18 and has played only four games in the minors thus far in his career. After an auspicious beginning, Thibault regressed last season.
New Jersey did a much better job of handling Martin Brodeur. Brodeur played a full year in Utica. Once the Devils deemed he was ready, they created an NHL opening for him.
Nowadays, most NHL goaltenders want to be designated as the No. 1 man. They want to play 55 games and they want to know that if they have a bad night, the coach will come right back with them the next game.
It's something Tabaracci craves, too.
"I've seen a lot of things over the last nine years," said Tabaracci. "Some of them have been good and some have been bad, but they were all character builders. It's the same as leaving (Calgary) last year. It's what you're made of. I don't let a lot of the little things bother me. I know what I can do on the ice. I think Brian's going to be pretty
fair in assessing his goaltending.
"Sure I'm the oldest guy in the system. I'm the guy that they're hopefully going to be looking at to help bring this team along. That's the position I'm comfortable with.I love it."
Eventually, Tabaracci will be pushed for playing time by Giguere.
"You just never know with the younger guys. I was the same way in Winnipeg. I was the guy who was going to come in and do everything. Things don't always work out that way It's a good situation here. I'd like to believe it doesn't matter who the other goaltender is. I've got a good relationship with Rollie (Dwayne Roloson). Whatever I can do to help Rollie, I'Il do -- and he's the same with me. It's going to apply to Giguere, too. It should be the same kind of relationship.
"I'm confident in my ability I don't think somebody's going to bump me off if I try to help somebody else along. You need somebody else who can also play. You can't play 80 games a year -- although you'd love to try it. You just can't do it.I found that out last year. There were stretches where you needed a day off here and there. It's a good situation for everybody."
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