CALGARY, AB -- With his children comfortably checked into their first days of school back in Glens Falls, NY., Ryan Huska is ready to do the same for his rookies.
The Adirondack Flames coach is ready to kick off his season as part of the coaching staff that will guide Calgary's prospects at the Young Stars Classic.
“My kids have gone through it in New York, now,” started Huska from the main concourse at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park on Thursday. “This is kind of our first day where we get quite a bit more excited and you’re looking forward to things down the road.
“Once we get on that plane tonight, it’ll be very busy and something we are looking forward to. Our families are all settled now in New York. They’re in school, my kids are, and they’re enjoying it. Now it’s time for us to start enjoying it too, getting back behind the bench and working with players on a daily basis.”
Huska, hired by the Flames to man the bench in Adirondack in late June, will be tasked with navigating Calgary’s entry at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton from September 12-15. Calgary will send 27 skaters and three goaltenders to the rookie showcase against the Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.
Among them include reigning Hobey Baker Award winner John Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, the team’s fourth overall pick from the 2014 NHL Draft and Morgan Klumchu, who was selected in the first round in 2013.
It’s not only an opportunity for Huska to step back behind the bench, but also sample some of what he could have at his disposal in New York.
“I think you have a look at the players that we potentially will see in Adirondack this year,” he said. “I think you do look to see who they’ve played with in the past and if they’ve had some chemistry and we can see if that continues this year. We’ll try to do a little bit of that over the course of the weekend in Penticton and hopefully we can see some guys develop a little chemistry together. It’d be great.”
It’ll also serve as an introduction to some and a refresher for others to the system Flames coach Bob Hartley will run in Calgary.
“It’s up to us to start Bob’s systems with them,” Huska said. “(It’ll) allow them to have a pretty good understanding what’s expected out of them over the course of the training camp and eventually the Flames training camp and throughout the regular season.”
While it’ll serve as an education for some of Calgary’s newer recruits, the rookie tournament will also double as a measuring stick for Huska’s players taking to the ice.
The same can be said on behalf of the coach, too.
“I think probably for the guys that have been here before, they’d like to see where they are in comparison to the guys they’re competing against,” Huska said. “For us as a new coaching staff, it gives us a first chance to see guys in a game situation and that’s something we’re really looking forward to.”