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Eye On Training Camp
Battle of the Bubble
Camp Notes: 9/22 --
D'Arcy McGrath

NHL hockey teams are comprised of many different positions, roles and responsibilities.

Fans and media often flock to the key, glamour hogging positions of starting goaltender, star winger, or even team policeman, while many players just go through the motions with very little fan fare.

Near the bottom of the pile, at the point where one step backwards means a trip to American Hockey League lies the most intriguing battle at this year's training camp.

Seventh defenceman.

Essentially a battle for the title of most popcorn consumed this year, as only six defenceman suite up on any given night, as we are all aware.

The winner of this steeple chase reports straight to the barn, and not to the winners circle.

Team officials talk a good game about all spots being open and letting the chips fall where they may, but the lead candidate between Mike Commodore, Steve Montador and Jesse Wallin, sit clearly behind a group of six that should play on most nights - especially with the performance of deemed six man, Andrew Ference this fall.

So how do these three players stack up?

Cut from the Same Cloth

Often an effective tool for seperating players at the bottom of a roster is the style that each player brings to the table.

If a club is set with offensive defenceman, said club is more likely to keep a bruising blueliner in its press box rather than a smaller skilled player.

Conversely if a team is stocked with meat, they are more likely to keep a smaller, skilled option on retainer.

In the Flames case the style label is a moot point.

The club is built with three brusinging defencemen in Robyn Regehr, Rhett Warrener and Denis Gauthier, plus a skating skilled trio of Jordan Leopold, Toni Lydman and Andrew Ference.

Plus, even if there was an imbalance, the three candidates all fall into that same category, that of stay at home physical defenceman that likes to mix it up from time to time.

Splitting Hairs

Complicating matters is the fact that the style of play expected of a defensive defenceman isn't exactly the type of eye splitting action that jumps up and demands attention.

It's been a humorous exercise all month to pick up the two Calgary dailies, check out the team's site, or read Calgarypuck's take on the performance of the three players as all four have tended to differ.

One source will state a near flawless performance by one of the three players, while two others will mention how he gave the puck away all night, or took bad penalties.

It's almost impossible to get a read.

The focus to this point has been on two relative new comers to Calgary in Jesse Wallin and Mike Commodore. To be the incumbent in hockey is to be the less glamorous option, one that tends to slip under the radar - very much the case for Steve Montador.

Montador falls further down the sex appeal index when you consider that Wallin was a first round pick and Commodore a second round pick, while Montador was signed as a free agent. He was never drafted.

Making the Call

This is clearly the most important training camp in all three players' careers.

They all fall into that age where a long term prospect quickly becomes a newly minted suspect.

Make the Flames now and you have a shot at moving up the depth chart in a number of seasons.

Miss out this year and it could in fact be your last chance. Something that coach Jim Playfair hinted at in the case of Mike Commodore.

"To Mike's credit, he put in a heck of a summer of hard work. He really dedicated himself. I'm sure he would have liked to spend the summer at his cabin there but he understands this is the most important summer of his career", Playfair told the Sun.

In the end it will all come down to a gut feel by general manager and coach Darryl Sutter.


Mike Commodore

Steve Montador

Jesse Wallin






63 gp

61 gp

49 gp














230 lbs

210 lbs

200 lbs

Draft Pos.

2nd (42nd)


1st (26th)

If he wants the biggest player he will take Mike Commodore.

If he wants the player that plays the most in your face style he'll take Jesse Wallin.

If he wants the player that handles the puck with a little more proficiency he'll stay with Steve Montador.

In the end however, given the drive to not attract attention as a seventh defenceman, it will likely come down to the player that makes the least mistakes.

The guy that gets noticed the least likely stands the longest.

Camp Information
Pengrowth Saddledome

555 Saddledome Rise SE
Calgary, AB T2P-3B9

Thursday September 11th, 2003
Training Camp Discussion on the
Message Boards
Pre-Season Schedule
9/18 - EDMONTON (7:00)
9/20 - EDMONTON (7:00)
9/23 - VANCOUVER (7:00)
9/25 - MINNESOTA (7:00)
9/27 - @ Vancouver (7:00)
10/2 - @ Edmonton (7:00)
10/4 - @ Edmonton (6:00)
Cut Counter (23 roster spots)
Players Remaining Cuts Remaining
45 22
Camp Roster



Bellemare - 48

1 - Turek

Bembridge - 55

2 - Commodore

Betts - 15

3 - Gauthier

Clark - 17

4 - Leopold

Commodore - 2

5 - Montador

Conroy - 22

7 - Kobasew

Cunning - 53

10 - Lowry

Davidson - 41

11 - Yelle

Dome - 38

12 - Iginla

Donally - 51

15 - Betts

Donovan - 16

16 - Donovan

Engelland - 36

17 - Clark

Evans - 43

19 - Saprykin

Ewasko - 58

21 - Ference

Ference - 21

22 - Conroy

Gauthier - 3

23 - Gelinas

Gelinas - 23

24 - Wallin

Green - 26

25 - Sonnenberg

Harvey - 52

26 - Green

Iginla - 12

27 - Reinprecht

Johnson - 54

28 - Regehr

Kobasew - 7

30 - Parley

Krahn - 35

32 - Lydman

Leopold - 4

33 - McLennan

Lombardi - 49

33 - Oliwa

Lowry - 10

35 - Krahn

Lydman - 32

36 - Engelland

Lynch - 68

37 - McAmmond

McAmmond - 37

38 - Dome

McLennan - 33

41 - Davidson

Montador - 5

42 - Phaneuf

Morgan - 46

43 - Evans

Oliwa - 33

44 - Warrener

Parley - 30

45 - Rozakov

Phaneuf - 42

46 - Morgan

Ramholt - 47

47 - Ramholt

Regehr - 28

48 - Bellemare

Reinprecht - 27

49 - Lombardi

Rozakov - 45

50 - Sabourin

Sabourin - 50

51 - Donally

Saprykin - 19

52 - Harvey

Sonnenberg - 25

53 - Cunning

Tardif - 56

54 - Johnson

Turek - 1

55 - Bembridge

Wallin - 24

56 - Tardif

Warrener - 44

58 - Ewasko

Yelle - 11

68 - Lynch

= in camp = cut
Full Schedule




Time (MST)


Sept. 9

Golf Reception

5:00 PM

Pengrowth Saddledome

Sept. 10

Golf Tournament

7:30 AM

Heritage Pointe

Golf Banquet

4:00 PM

Pengrowth Saddledome

Sept. 11

Fitness Testing*

7:00 AM

*not open to public

Sept. 12

Team 'A'


9:30 AM

Pengrowth Saddledome


10:00 AM

Team 'B'


11:30 AM

Pengrowth Saddledome


12:00 PM

Sept. 13

Team 'B'


9:30 AM

Pengrowth Saddledome


10:00 AM

Team 'A'


11:30 AM

Pengrowth Saddledome


12:00 PM

Sept. 14

Team 'A'


9:30 AM

Pengrowth Saddledome


10:00 AM

Team 'B'


11:30 AM

Pengrowth Saddledome


12:00 PM

Sept. 15

Team 'B'


8:30 AM



9:00 AM

Team 'A'


10:30 AM



11:00 AM

Sept. 16

Team B and A


10:30 AM

Pengrowth Saddledome

Inter-Squad Scrimmage

11:00 AM

Sept. 17

Team B and A


10:30 AM

Pengrowth Saddledome

Inter-Squad Scrimmage

11:00 AM

Sept. 18

Flames vs. Edmonton

7:00 PM

Pengrowth Saddledome

Sept. 20

Coaching Day in Alberta


Pengrowth Saddledome

Flames vs. Edmonton

7:00 PM

Pengrowth Saddledome

Sept. 23

Flames vs. Vancouver

7:00 PM

Pengrowth Saddledome

Sept. 25

Flames vs. Minnesota

7:00 PM

Pengrowth Saddledome

Sept. 27

Flames at Vancouver

8:00 PM

GM Place

Oct. 2

Flames at Edmonton

7:00 PM

Skyreach Centre

Oct. 4

Flames at Edmonton

6:00 PM

Skyreach Centre

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