It’s been eight months since Matt Stajan last took to the ice in front of the Saddledome faithful, the flaming ‘C’ draped across his chest. But even now that the 15-year NHL veteran is suiting up in Germany, his name is still very much alive in the Calgary Flames‘ dressing room.
Quite literally, in fact.
Just last week Stajan was the subject of a chorus of cheers echoing throughout the Flames’ inner sanctum. Exclamations of “Staj is on! Staj is on!” punctuated the day as Johnny Gaudreau and Co. caught sight of their teammate — now plying his trade for EHC Red Bull München in Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey League — on a locker-room TV, taking on the Malmo Redhawks in an afternoon tilt.
Their response says all you need to know about the admiration Stajan’s former mates still have for him, according to assistant GM Craig Conroy.
“Even though he’s over in Europe now, I think to hear those guys — once they saw him, they just light up. That’s when you know,” Conroy says. “Even as he’s playing an early-afternoon game, the guys were all watching. It was on every TV in the locker room, training room, everywhere.”
Anyone who’s hung around the Flames over the past eight and a half years won’t be surprised to hear Stajan still has plenty of fans on the team. The 34-year-old became a stalwart, steadying presence among the club’s forward corps, and served as one of the few links between the Jarome Iginla era and the young-guns era the team finds itself in now.