Sven Baertschi to rest, then turn focus to Flames
After fine season, Winterhawks star knows big challenge awaits
By Scott Cruickshank, Calgary Herald
May 16, 2012
Portland’s Sven Baertschi scores on Edmonton goaltender Laurent Brossoit, who like Baertschi is also a Calgary Flames’ prospect, during the WHL final. While the Winterhawks lost the WHL championship in seven games to the Oil Kings, Baertschi won the league’s post-season scoring crown.
Photograph by: Rick MacWilliam
Even now, remarkable season behind him, Sven Baertschi has trouble putting his winter's work into perspective.
It had been a whirlwind of hockey excellence. Highs and highers.
After acing the Calgary Flames' training camp - rave reviews from start to finish - Baertschi rejoined his junior outfit, the Portland Winterhawks, in time to dominate the Western Hockey League.
In the midst of that productive spree - ringing up 94 points in 47 games - the left-winger also skated for the Swiss side at the world junior championship in Calgary and, later, enjoyed a rather loud two-week showing with the Flames.
All of which was capped by the WHL's post-season scoring crown.
But Tuesday afternoon, following exit interviews at team headquarters in Portland, the young man sounded a tad spent. This, of course, is only days after the Winterhawks' seven-game ouster at the hands of the Edmonton Oil Kings, a development that cost Baertschi & Co. a trip to the Memorial Cup.
“It's still tough that we lost in the WHL (final),” said Baertschi, 19. “I keep thinking about it, and it's a real tough time right now. I guess life goes on. The season is over. There's other things I want to think about right now. I want to stay away from hockey for awhile.”
The season's grind scraped nine pounds off his wee frame. The five-foot-10 kid is barely 180.
And, truth be told, the ol' chassis is kind of creaky, too.
“Most of the time, after a season is done, you start feeling the stuff,” said Baertschi, the 13th overall pick at the 2011 National Hockey League draft. “You start feeling your shoulders, your knees and stuff. That's just normal. It's been a long season, a tough playoff run. There's soreness, but not really injuries. But every hockey player has it after a season.”
The remedy, of course, is rest.
No one has to tell Baertschi about that.
“My plan right now is to relax - spend time with my billet family here in Portland, spend time with my girlfriend here in Portland,” said the native of Bern, Switzerland. “Just relax and get away from hockey. Not do anything for awhile. At some point, I want to get home and start training again, spend time with my family.”
After that, Baertschi's benchmarks can be boiled down to two:
n Attend the Flames' summer camp in July.
n Crack the Flames' roster in October.
Which isn't so far-fetched.
Everyone saw Baertschi, summoned from Portland on an emergency basis, score three times in five dates for the Flames. And everyone heard the fans, fuelled by hope, chanting his name.
“For me, it was very special to get called up to Calgary,” said Baertschi. “If I think about it now, I can't even believe it did happen. It was such an exciting time. Now I start to feel that it was actually awesome. At the time, it was great. But right now? It's an incredible thing. It was awesome to get a chance. I tried my best up here. It was a good learning process for me.”
No fool, he is aware that expectations have shifted. He's gone from a relatively unknown commodity to a household name in a matter of months.
Meaning all eyes will be on No. 47 this fall.
“I look forward to camp, but it might be a little different for me,” said Baertschi, with a laugh. “I guess I've set the standard a little high. I got lucky once or twice and I was able to score three goals. But I take that as a big challenge for me, and I do like it. But, on the other side, people understand that I'm young. There's things I have to learn - things I want to make sure I learn.
“Last year, the first pro camp, it was a little difficult. You try to do your best, you're a little nervous and stuff . . . so you don't (think), ‘OK, 100 per cent, I want to make the team. If I don't make the team, I'll be really sad about it.' This time, this year, it's a little different. Going into camp, I want to make sure I make the team. I want to be part of the Calgary Flames next year.”
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