No need to remind Jonathan Huberdeau of his failures last season. He is aware of his troubles. He is well aware that he played below expectations. However, a new era begins in Calgary and he intends to be at the heart of the Flames’ future success.
“The last four years, it was going very well. Last year, it was less good. There have been a lot of changes, but that doesn’t excuse anything,” Huberdeau said on the terrace of Le Mirage golf club.
The prestigious club, located in the Laurentians, hosted for a second year the Jonathan Huberdeau golf tournament for the benefit of the Cité de la Santé Foundation.
Unlike his first season in a Flames uniform, his association with the Laval hospital has been a real success for a year. “I don’t regret [getting involved] at all. Everyone just wants to help and everyone does it with a smile,” he explained wearing a gray foundation-colored polo shirt against a backdrop of intermittent drizzle.
This year, the foundation will focus its efforts on issues related to mental health problems. As Huberdeau never takes half measures, he has once again gone to great lengths to mark his commitment to the foundation.
“I don’t save lives directly, but I like going to the hospital. This year, I went to visit the field of psychiatry. I like to go there, see and see what they need. »
At least this new part of his life has come to put some balm, in a way, on a tumultuous beginning in Alberta.
With a season of 115 points two years ago, the Jérômien struggled to collect successes, with only 55 points last season.
In fact, the entire team disappointed expectations, unable to qualify for the playoffs, despite the arrival of many veterans.
“We were competitive, but not everyone gave their best. Me, I had trouble. Not everyone gave 100%, but this season I’m confident,” he clarified.
Less than a year ago, the 30-year-old winger signed an eight-year deal worth $84 million. So he’s in Calgary for good, in principle.
And according to him, the Flames are close to the goal. Theirs being to win the Stanley Cup, as quickly as possible.
“Management wants us to win now. We have a lot of 29 and 30 year old guys. You have to win right now. We are in our prime. It’s more the team chemistry that you have to look at. We have to work together. »
In fact, Huberdeau concedes that he wasn’t the leader he wanted to be when he arrived in the Flames locker room: “Since I wasn’t playing well last year, it’s hard to be one. In Florida, I was a leader. In Calgary, it was a new team, so for sure you don’t impose yourself from the start as a leader in a new locker room. »
Now comfortable with the Rocky Mountain climate, he approaches the new campaign with a whole new perspective. “I’ll come to camp, I’ll be comfortable, and I’ll be the leader of this team to get it to the playoffs. We have a good team. It will be a good challenge, but we are ready. »
His contribution will be vital to the cause of the Flames, following the departure of certain core members of the team, such as Tyler Toffoli and Milan Lucic.
He also expects better individual performance. According to him, the last season was an aberration: “My talent did not disappear overnight. I had lost confidence, but here, I intend to find it. I know what I can do and next year I will do it. »
“They always say I throw arrows at Darryl [Sutter],” he said with a smirk, “but he’s a good person, it just didn’t click between him and me. I have nothing against the guy. »
The relationship between the 64-year-old head coach and Huberdeau hasn’t always been good. “I just need to stop thinking about it and see how I can help the team. »
At least, for him, it’s in the past. With Ryan Huska now at the helm of the Flames, the forward sees brighter days ahead. “I think his vision is the right one. I am convinced that Ryan will give us all the tools to be successful. »
His tools, the Flames will need to avoid a second bad season in a row. But Huberdeau’s word: “I can’t wait to get back to Calgary to show what I can do.” »