Monday, April 12, 2021

Exciting times for Flames forward call-up Froese

Exciting times for Flames forward call-up Froese

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Calgary Flames call-up Byron Froese spent Family Day on the ice in Vancouver.

For his family, there’s a more significant date fast-approaching.

Froese’s wife, Teil, is due to deliver their second child before the end of February.

“We’re expecting a little girl coming up real soon,” Froese reported from the West Coast, the excitement evident in his voice. “In an ideal world, it would happen when we get back from this trip, but you can’t control it.

“You try to prepare yourself and plan for something, but you know you need to have about five different plans.”

Professionally, plans have changed a couple of times for the 29-year-old centre over the last few weeks — and both times for the better.

First, the Flames announced their California-based farm team would relocate to Calgary for this shortened season due to cross-border travel restrictions. That means that Froese, who served as captain for the AHL’s Stockton Heat last winter and then signed another two-way contract, and his family can stay put in their home in the southeast suburb of Mahogany.


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And then the right-handed pivot was summoned by the big club, ending his 34-month wait for another crack at the highest level.

Monday’s late date against the Vancouver Canucks marked his fifth consecutive spin in the Flaming C. With a pair of regular centres — Derek Ryan and now Mikael Backlund — on the shelf due to injuries, Froese should be sticking around a while longer. (It was Ryan’s fractured finger that initially opened the door for No. 38, and he has maintained his spot on the fourth line since.)

“He’s a real smart player,” said head coach Geoff Ward of Froese, who has totalled 115 big-league appearances on behalf of the Flames, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. “He’s good in the faceoff circle. He understands the game, as far as reading it. He’s real good defensively. He’s aware of what’s going on on the ice. He knows what’s happening behind him.

“We like what he brings. He has good size. He’s competitive. He’s good on the penalty-kill. So there are an awful lot of things that he brings to the lineup that help us.”

While it’s always nice to be publicly praised by the boss, the biggest compliment you can be paid in this business is to be tapped for more shifts and trusted in meaningful moments.

It’s a positive sign for Froese that prior to Monday’s meeting with the Canucks, his icetime had climbed in each of his four games since his recall from the minors.

He scored a goal on home-ice against the Winnipeg Jets, a bonus contribution from a dude with six career cash-ins at the highest level. Two nights later, he was on the ice for a crucial defensive assignment in the final minute as the Flames closed out a victory in Vancouver.


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“It’s more of a reaffirming what I had believed in and what I thought I could do — and that’s an everyday kind of thing,” Froese said. “You get out there and you play against the top line or play against higher-up lines, and you kind of reaffirm that you can play, you can shut ’em down, that you can do that job. It definitely was a reaffirming feeling for me, stepping back in and getting more comfortable. And obviously getting that goal was awesome.

“But you can never get satisfied. You have to keep pushing and keep building,” he added. “For me, it’s keep earning trust. I want to earn that trust I can be out there any time of the game against any line. My play and my actions have to show that.”

While it’s an honour to have a ‘C’ stitched on your jersey, it’s not always considered a good omen when you’re named the captain of the farm team.

The staffers in Stockton rave about Froese — about his consistency, his character and his leadership traits — but last season, he watched a handful of fellow forwards scramble to pack their bags for Calgary without being rewarded with a call-up of his own. Although he was on the extended roster for the NHL’s summer restart, he didn’t draw into the Flames’ lineup in the bubble.

He’s determined now to make the most of this long-awaited opportunity to showcase his skills on the biggest stage. So far? “It’s been awesome.”

And off the ice, there’s more excitement coming soon for both Byron and Teil, already the proud parents of a not-quite-two-year-old son.

“It definitely puts your life in perspective even more,” Froese said of fatherhood. “You kind of have those moments throughout every season and during the off-season too where you have to make sure your priorities are right. You go to the rink and it’s a job and you have to always approach it that way and give it everything you have, but you also have to be able to step away when you’re away from the game.

“Going home to family is the best way to do that so it has definitely added another element for me, and it’s an exciting one.”


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