Baertschi is all business
Last season’s run is still fresh for Swiss teen
By Vicki Hall, Calgary Herald
July 9, 2012
Last season, Sven Baertschi tipped the scales at 181 pounds. He’s up to 190 now as he strives for a spot on the Calgary Flames’ roster.
Photograph by: Stuart Gradon , Calgary Herald
Sven Baertschi managed to walk through the Calgary International Airport this weekend without a soul recognizing him.
Or at least so he thinks.
“Maybe somebody will one day,” the undisputed No. 1 prospect for the Calgary Flames said Sunday, trying to rest up for a busy week ahead. . “It’s not like I have to wear big glasses or a fake moustache.”
Maybe the city is just too distracted by the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. Because, just four months back, the Swiss teenager departed Calgary in a fog of adulation in the wake of a 10-day audition with the Flames.
This time around, the first-round pick (13th overall) in 2011 is in town on another business trip. Pancakes, cotton candy and the roller-coaster can wait another day.
Sixteen kilometres west of Stampede Park, Baertschi is the prime attraction this week at the annual 40-prospect summer development camp at the WinSport Athletic and Ice Complex.
“The Stampede is a big event here, so it would be cool to see,” Baertschi said. “But by the looks of the schedule, we’re busy all week.
“Besides, we’re far away from downtown, and there’s probably a reason we’re so far away.”
Some — heck, most — of the participants at this camp are still far, far away from the NHL.
Not Baertschi. General manager Jay Feaster is on record as saying the Portland Winterhawks superstar has every opportunity to start the upcoming season, if there is a season, in Calgary.
With good reason. On emergency recall last season from Portland, Baertschi collected three goals in five NHL appearances.
In the third period of his last game with the big club, the Saddledome faithful chanted “Bar-chee, Bar-chee” as Svenmania swept the city.
Finally, finally, a reason for optimism for the future.
“I do remember that,” Baertschi says, of the impromptu serenade. “It was great. Something really special. I’ll never forget that. It was really exciting for me.
“Gave me a lot of confidence.”
Buoyed by that confidence, Baertschi ramped up his performance in the WHL playoffs, if that’s even possible after averaging two points a game in the regular season.
Falling just short of a Memorial Cup berth, Baertschi registered 10 goals and 27 points in 21 playoff appearances.
“It was a great run,” Baertschi said. “After it was done, I was trying to forget about the pain that we lost. I was down for about two weeks.
“It wasn’t easy.”
To take his mind off what might have been, Baertschi asked his girlfriend to teach him to drive.
A couple weeks later, he flew home to Switzerland with a valuable piece of government-issued identification in his wallet.
“I got my driver’s licence,” he said. “It’s too expensive to get it in Switzerland, and it takes way too long to get it.
“It’s much easier to get in Portland.”
Taking no formal lessons, Baertschi passed the test on the first try.
“It’s all good,” he said. “The only thing is at home, the streets are a little bit smaller. I have a big car at home. So I was kind of worried that I would hit somebody.
“But so far it’s worked out well.”
The same can be said for Baertschi’s quest to earn full-time employment in the NHL fresh out of junior. The next step comes this morning with the latest round of fitness tests followed by five days of on-ice sessions.
His major objective this off-season? To continue adding (healthy) weight to his five-foot-10 frame.
Last season, Baertschi tipped the scales at 181 pounds. A year later, his weight is closer to 190.
“I’m trying to get stronger, because I’m not the biggest guy,” he said. “But it will come. I’m still young, and I’m just trying to work it on during the summer.
“I’m going to make sure I can battle against big guys and make sure I can win those battles.”
But Baertschi believes size can only take him so far.
“I always think I want to get better at everything,” he said. “I think the game is getting faster and faster every year. It’s getting harder to play in the league.
“So I always try to work on everything.”
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