Kolanos’s comeback bid begins in Heat training camp

Like the other dozen players trying out for the Abbotsford Heat on Friday at Matsqui Recreation Centre, Krys Kolanos was hoping to beat the odds and earn a contract.

Like the other dozen players trying out for the Abbotsford Heat on Friday at Matsqui Recreation Centre, Krys Kolanos was hoping to beat the odds and earn a contract.

Unlike the others, Kolanos has 136 NHL games on his resumé. (The others, combined, have eight.)

But he’s also coming off a major hip surgery that sidelined him for the past a year and a half, and in light of all he’s been through, simply being back on the ice in a competitive setting meant a lot to the 30-year-old Calgary native.

“It was great to get a hard workout in, and start off everything on the right foot,” Kolanos said with a grin, following an hour-long practice led by the Heat coaching staff. “Today was really good.

“I have high expectations for myself as a player, and I believe I can be a real impact depth player in North America still. That fire is still burning in me. That’s why I’m here.”

Kolanos, a centre, accrued the bulk of his NHL games with the Phoenix Coyotes between 2001 and 2004. He’s bounced around plenty in the years since, with stops in Finland, Germany and Switzerland; eight AHL cities; and brief NHL stints with the Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers in 2005-06.

The last season Kolanos was fully healthy, 2008-09, he proved he could still be an impact player. He lit it up with the AHL’s Houston Aeros, racking up 51 points in 45 games, and earned his way into 21 NHL contests with the Minnesota Wild, Houston’s parent club.

But it was during the 2009-10 campaign, with the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms, that Kolanos began experiencing sharp, severe pain in his hip flexor and groin.

“It was an overgrown labral head with a couple impingements on a bone,” he explained. “Over time, it just tore everything up in there.”

Kolanos underwent microfracture surgery, then sat out the entire 2010-11 season in order to ensure the hip was properly healed and rehabbed.

Heat head coach Troy Ward knew Kolanos – he was an assistant coach with Houston during the centre’s season there – and he extended an invitation to Heat training camp.

“So far, touch wood, everything is good,” Kolanos said, speaking of his health. “I love the game, I love to win, I hate to lose. I’m still relatively young and hungry.

“It feels great to be out there, hungry and really wanting it. That’s what feels good.”

HOMETOWN BOY EMMERSON HOPES TO MAKE IMPRESSION

The NHL parent Calgary Flames assigned 15 players to the Heat on Wednesday, and they arrived in town on Thursday evening.

But Ward elected to give those players some time off on Friday, to give them some time to cope with being cut from the NHL club.

“I thought they needed maybe a mental health day,” Ward explained. “They’re okay physically.”

The other benefit to giving the recent NHL campers the day off was, it allowed the tryout players an opportunity to gain a certain amount of familiarity with their surroundings and with the Heat coaching staff.

“If tomorrow would have been the first day for the tryout guys, it would have been very unfair for those guys,” Ward said.

“You never know in this business. As we told them today, if the opportunity’s not there this week or next week, maybe it’s two weeks from now, maybe it’s a month from now. But the only way that opportunity is probably going to arise is if we know you and we have trust in you after the week we spend together.”

The tryout group includes forwards Kolanos, Riley Emmerson, and Joshua Turnbull; defencemen J.P. Cote, Jeff May, Mitch Versteeg, Trevor Glass, Nick Tuzzolino, Patrick Cullity, Philippe Seydoux and Cam Brodie; and goalies Andrew Engelage and David Brown.

Emmerson is an Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association product who is in his second training camp with the Heat. The 6’8″ enforcer has a contract with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies this season, but he’s hoping to earn a promotion to his hometown AHL club.

“It’s my goal to earn a contract out of camp – I guess that’s every guy’s goal here,” Emmerson said with a chuckle. “I’m hoping to make an impression, do what I do, and earn a role.”

HEAT PREPARING TO PLAY UBC

On Sunday night, the Heat travel to Surrey for an exhibition game against the UBC Thunderbirds (6:05 p.m., South Surrey Arena).

It’s the Heat’s lone pre-season game. The past two years, Abbotsford had played an exhibition series with the Manitoba Moose – the Moose traveled to the Fraser Valley in 2009, and the Heat reciprocated last fall by visiting Winnipeg.

But with the Moose relocating to St. John’s, Nfld. over the summer, and the Vancouver Canucks striking up a new AHL affiliation to the Chicago Wolves, the Heat were unable to line up anything this fall that didn’t come with a huge travel burden.

In future years, Ward said, he’d like to arrange a pre-season game against the Canucks prospects before they’re sent down to the AHL.

“It’s not ideal,” Ward said, referring to the Heat’s relative dearth of exhibition games. “The trick for our staff is to establish game speed in practice, which we’ll start tomorrow.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Sheriff Avory Chapman was last seen Jan. 20 on Wellington Avenue in Chilliwack. (RCMP)
RCMP look for missing man last seen in downtown Chilliwack

21-year-old Sheriff Avory Chapman has been missing since Jan. 20

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual interference in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Abbotsford youngster Hudson Poittris is hoping to raise money to provide students at his school friendship bracelets. (Submitted)
VIDEO: Abbotsford youth launches GoFundMe for friendship bracelets

Hudson Poittris, nine, hopes bracelets will increase inclusivity and kindness

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Menno Home in Abbotsford

Long-term care home had 67 cases and 13 deaths since mid-November

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

The SACH Community Hub team, from left to right: Upkar Singh Tatlay, Gary Thandi, Allysha Ram, Jassy Pandher, Harman Pander. (Submitted photo)
There’s help for South Asian men wrestling with drug addiction in Surrey

South Asian deaths related to toxic drugs increased by 255 per cent between 2015 and 2018

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read