I remember when you were lighting it up in Denver, Col. Drafted 12th overall in 1998, you were a fresh-faced youngster from Ste-Justine, Que., jumping out of the QMJHL with 214 points in three years for the Halifax Mooseheads — my favourite Q team, after all.
You were a highly touted rookie and you proved your merit as a skilled power forward with promise.
You won the Stanley Cup in 2001 but, as time went on, the Avalanche had to clean house, start over again and rebuild.There was no place left for you and the salary you commanded as a 25-goal scorer.
When you landed here in 2006, I was thrilled. Some thought, ‘what? he’s not that great.’
I thought, ‘no, he’s the perfect playmaker for Jarome Iginla.’
But you weren’t ready for the shit show that you were to face here. The Flames hired Mike Keenan to run the ship and you didn’t respond well to his dictatorial style of coaching, constantly juggling the lines when many of us knew where you were supposed to fit.
And don’t even get me started on that whole Todd Bertuzzi experiment. Ugh.
You lasted two seasons here. Instead of paying you what you were worth after 99 assists in two campaigns, the Flames let you go.
Off to Montreal with you. How odd. Two years later, they did the same thing to your replacement, Mike Cammalleri.
Neither of you wanted to leave Calgary either. But Calgary didn’t want to keep you.
After bouncing to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a season you’ve come back, signing for a bargain $1.7 million, compared to the bags o’cash you were making here before.
During tonight’s pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers, I watched you on the top line with Iginla and stud rookie Mikael Backlund.
You were exactly what this team was missing last year: a forechecker, a digger in the corners and that guy who can make that pass from wherever and whenever and get that puck to that Iginla, who only needs that laser-like wrist shot to score a goal.
It was beautiful.
And it tells me you’re going to do some good things here in Calgary this season.
So thanks for coming back and giving Cowtown another chance.