‘We’re going to continue to fight and grind. We’ve got to scratch and claw out of this but when we do it, it’s going to be really rewarding’

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By his own admission, Blake Coleman doesn’t plant himself on his couch for all 162 games of the Texas Rangers’ regular season.

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That’s a lot of baseball for anyone to watch, especially when you happen to be a professional athlete yourself and have kids to take care of.

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But when the regular season ends and the stakes get a little higher? You bet the Calgary Flames winger is tuning in.

“I say I’m a Rangers playoff fan,” the native of Plano, Texas said. “I watch their post-seasons every year, but the regular season is pretty long. I catch games here and there and go to games with my daughters in the summers, but I can’t say I’m a die-hard.”

Most of Coleman’s energy these days is focused on getting the Flames back on track after a disappointing start to the season, although he’s been one of the few bright spots for the team, so far.

But as a proud Texan and devoted Dallas sports fan, Coleman’s unsurprisingly been keeping a close eye on the Rangers, who could clinch the World Series with a win on Wednesday night over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Their unlikely run to the brink of a first World Series crown has captivated pretty much everyone he knows from back home, and even if Coleman can’t be in the Dallas area for the magic of it all, it’s still a major topic of conversation.

“Both sides of our family are really into it,” Coleman said. “It’s always fun to bond over sports and big moments. The whole city’s excited. Unfortunately, we’re just barely going to miss it (the Flames play the Stars in Dallas on Nov. 24) but it’s cool to follow along.”

Like most kids, Coleman played baseball growing up. Hockey was where he’d wind up focusing most of his attention, but there were lots of summer evenings spent out on the baseball diamond.

Until, well …

“I played until I was 10 or 11 years old and I enjoyed it until they put me in the outfield and nobody could hit it there yet,” Coleman said. “I was like, ‘Alright, this is not for me.’

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“I was picking daisies at that stage of my life.”

While the Rangers’ run has been a nice, fun distraction away from the rink, Coleman is very much focused on trying to get the Flames back on track.

As everyone knows, the season has not started the way anyone around the Saddledome was hoping for. The results need to start going their way, and fast.

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Coleman has scored two goals and added an assist through nine games. Maybe those numbers don’t pop, but he’s been one of the team’s top penalty killers and his connection with Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane has combined to be arguably the Flames’ most steady line so far this season.

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On the list of problems plaguing the Flames, their line is pretty low.

But with the team desperately needing wins, they need everyone to be better.

Coleman, though, believes they remain entirely capable of digging themselves out of the hole they already find themselves in.

“We have good players and players that care,” Coleman said. “For me, look at the (St. Louis Blues) the year they won the Cup. Dead-last or near dead-last at Christmas. All it took was a little spark and some confidence and they went on a run and ended up winning the whole thing.

“There’s plenty of time, that’s the beauty of this league. There’s 82 games. Everyone else is going to start hitting that big red panic button right now, but we’re not going to that in this room. We’re going to continue to fight and grind. We’ve got to scratch and claw out of this but when we do it, it’s going to be really rewarding.”

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Brad Pascall will be taking on an extra set of responsibilities this winter.

The Flames’ vice-president of hockey operations and assistant general manager will be working alongside Joe Thornton as the co-GMs of Canada’s 2023 Spengler Cup team.

Pascall has a long history with Hockey Canada and will be returning to the organization for the first time since he left to join the Flames in 2014.

He was VP of hockey operations and national teams with Hockey Canada from 2010-14 and worked for the organization from 1996 until 14. During his time there, he won five straight gold medals at the IIHF World Junior Championships (2005-09), three Olympic gold medals and two world championships, to name just a few of his accomplishments.


X: @DannyAustin_9

Wes Gilbertson and Danny Austin have been covering the Flames for years and know what makes the team tick. Have questions? They have the answers – or the contacts to track them down. Send your questions to calgaryflames@postmedia.com

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