Flames defenceman Hanifin still sees growth coming
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“He’s a young player age-wise, but obviously he’s a veteran player based on his experience,” said Flames head coach Geoff Ward. “A lot of people, when they look at Noah, they forget that he’s younger than some of the guys or just as old as some of the guys coming out of college to play their first pro games.
“The fact that he’s got that experience for us is great. We’re not worried about his age, we’re not worried about the number of games he’s played. Just like everyone else, it’s the same as everyone else on our team, he’s got a developmental path that he’s actively involved in and we work with him on. The fact he’s got so much experience allows him to play with a certain amount of poise and composure but we’re still trying to push the envelope there as much as we can.”
When asked to pinpoint areas where he thinks he can improve this season, Hanifin repeatedly stressed that he wants to be more aggressive and get back to using his intuition a little more.
That’s something Hanifin says he’s gotten away from a little bit but believes he can tap into.
“I think it’s always been inside of me, it’s just the hesitation,” Hanifin said. “Sometimes, I think I hesitate a little bit too much in certain situations. Obviously, it depends on the situation in the game, sometimes you’ve gotta be smart. I think sometimes I’ve got to rely more o my own instincts.
“That’s what got me to the NHL when I was younger, that’s what made me a top pick and I feel I’ve kind of drifted away from that a little bit, but I feel that’s something that’s still within me. I feel I have the skills to do it and I’ve just gotta trust myself and go out there and play the game I like to play.”
As for the idea that he’s a finished product? Well, Hanifin can point to one pretty obvious example of a defenceman who kept working and improving until he was a whole lot older than 23-years-old and had played way more than 389 games.
He just needs to point across the locker room at his captain with the Flames.
“A perfect example of that is Mark Giordano. He won the Norris Trophy when he was 35-years-old,” Hanifin said. “He just kept getting better, kept working on his game every year and got to the point where he was the best defenceman in the NHL at one point, so that’s kind of how I view it. I feel each year is a new year and something I can work on and keep getting better and better.”