Since breaking into the NHL full-time as a Toronto Maple Leaf in the 2003-04 season, Matt Stajan has evolved into one of the game’s better two-way forwards, and as a leader of a young Calgary Flames squad.
In addition to being an assistant captain for the team on the ice, the 30-year old also is the team’s representative in the Players’ Association in off-ice matters.
Adrian Szkolar caught up with Canadian, who also holds Slovenian citizenship, on the following topics:
On his decision to sign a four-year extension:
Obviously, testing the market is in the back of your head, you go over options and you talk to your agent, but I really enjoy playing in Calgary and I see a bright future for our team. The easier thing would have been to go the other way and try to get traded to a contender and then test the market, but I'm a believer in our team.
We're building something, we're trying to turn this thing around as quick as we can, and it's more satisfying for me as a person. I'm happy that they wanted me to be a part of that.
I have a good relationship with Brian (Burke), I was with him in Toronto, and he’s very open. He's traded me once, but we have a great relationship. He told me when he came to Calgary that he liked me, and it's been open dialog all year. I'm just happy to have signed; I just want to concentrate on playing hockey.
On what appeals to him about the team's future:
The young guys coming up, you like to see their growth. Teams turn around pretty quickly in this league if young guys come in and contribute, and we have some guys that have done that. Sean (Monahan) has been great, he's getting better and better and he's only 19 years old. T.J. Brodie has really improved; he's been a key piece for us this year. I really like the dynamic of our team, and I have confidence in our management that they're going to get this thing going, and it's on us players to do our job.
On the Collective Bargaining Agreement:
I'm happy to be playing hockey again, that goes for everybody. What happened had to happen, I'm a believer in that the deal wouldn't have happened in September. We stuck together, did what we had to do, but the main thing is that hockey is back. We got 10 years of no interruptions, and the game's growing.
The league's doing a great job growing the game, and I think it's going to keep growing bigger and bigger. It'd be nice if the Canadian dollar stayed strong, but that's the business side, and we play hockey and we have no control over that. We have full confidence in our union, Don Fehr did an absolutely fantastic job for us, and moving on, we're in a great spot compared to the previous lock-out, so I couldn't be happier as a player.
Rooting for Canada or Slovenia in the Olympics?
I'll be watching both, obviously I'm born in Canada and my parents are from Canada, but I have some roots in Slovenia and it's nice to see them there. It's a small country and hopefully, they represent well.
On potentially representing Slovenia in international play:
I've represented Canada at the World Juniors, and there's a process you have to go through to switch nationalities. It's been talked about, but I've never really acted on it. At the end of the day, I'm Canadian. I'm not going to just change and take someone's spot. Those guys worked hard to get there, it's great for them to get an opportunity to represent their country, and their future is very bright.