Greg Gilbert aims high for the fall

By Corinna Callsen

Hey coach, will we make the playoffs this year? Greg Gilbert, Head Coach of the Calgary Flames is confident that the upcoming season will be better than the last one. Why? Consider a couple of reasons.

First, Gilbert is very confident because the Flames picked up a young player who could become a valuable addition to the Flames in the years to come. Gilbert is definitely content with this year’s first round draft pick for the Calgary Flames.

Sophomore Eric Nystrom from the University of Michigan was Rookie of the Year at his university with 15 goals and 9 assists for 24 points. Nystrom made it to the Bauer/ccha All-Rookie team during the 2001/2002 season. He also earned a spot on the United States National Junior Team at the 2002 World Junior Championships. Last June, Nystrom was ranked 11th among North American prospects for the National Hockey League draft and was selected tenth overall by the Calgary Flames. According to Gilbert, Nystrom is a good pick.

"His game is good, he has the hockey sense, good size and strong abilities," Gilbert explains. Nystrom, a lefty who will play right wing, has all the qualities the Flames are looking for.

"Eric is a hard working kid who wants to make a difference and become a champion. We will bring him to training camp and see from there."

Gilbert is against rushing young players into situations they aren’t physically and mentally ready forand the coach might leave Nystrom with the Wolverines in Michigan for another season of university hockey.

For now, the coach is focusing on the upcoming season.

The line-up for next fall is not yet clear, but Gilbert describes his entire team as being committed, ready and in great shape.

"The playoffs are our goal and everything short of that is unacceptable. I know that and the players know that. There are a lot of players that want to pay the price to be there and a lot of these guys have never experienced playoff hockey and what it feels like.

"The real grind is getting through the regular season and the goal is to play in the playoffs. It’s the most fun of the season," continues Gilbert, a Stanley Cup winner backin his playing days. "It’s an opportunity for us to realize a dream that a lot of these guys had since they first started skating."

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