Among the first things new sportswriters are told before they start typing is to not write in cliches.
Leading with ‘what a difference a year makes’ is considered a no-no.
But, in the case of Jiri Hudler . . .
What a difference a year makes.
Less than a year removed from his best season, claiming the Lady Byng Trophy and helping the Calgary Flames to a surprising second-round appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the left-winger appears to be days or a couple of weeks (at most) away from becoming an ex-Flame.
Hudler has been available for a while. Believe Flames want second-round pick. https://t.co/xIEDMGE2F5
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 4, 2016
The NHL trade deadline is February 29. Hudler’s name is always the first mentioned when it comes to Flames’ trade bait.
He’s an unrestricted free agent making $4 million this year and he’s been a shadow of his former self playing on the team’s first line with young stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. From 31 goals and 76 points in 78 games, he’s fallen to seven goals and 28 points through 45 games.
He’s 32-years-old but if you asked a lot of observers, he’s looked several years older than that.
#Flames RW and pending UFA Jiri Hudler confirmed today he has not had any extension talks. “I like Calgary … So we’ll see how it works out.”
— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) February 9, 2016
Known for being good at avoiding the media, Hudler had a rare session with reporters at the Saddledome Tuesday morning where he confirmed that there have been no talks with the Flames about a new contract.
This is what he had to say about a possible move:
“You think about it,” he said. “You think about your future. You’re thinking about where you’re going to be, but it shouldn’t be bothering me on the ice.
“Because when you put your gear on, you should be all hockey — all focused on the wins and the goals and defence and the stuff like that.”
The Flames jumped on a flight after practice Wednesday and will play in San Jose on Thursday, Phoenix on Friday, and will return to Calgary for practice on Valentine’s Day before taking on the Anaheim Ducks on Monday afternoon.
Monday will mark exactly two weeks until the trade deadline so, if Flames GM Brad Treviling decides to get to work early on cleaning out players who aren’t coming back next fall, it could be that the next time Hudler is seen in Calgary it will be in a different uniform.
Once the Flames brass decides to give up on the hope of making the playoffs and starts planning their spring sale, it’s quite possible Hudler’s trade could be the first one announced.
It seems to be a foregone conclusion.