Calgary Flames assistant coach Dave Cameron laces up his skates while participating as a guest instructor at the recent On the Edge Hockey Camp in Tignish.
TIGNISH – He’s been getting some biking and lots of golf in during his Prince Edward Island summer, but Kildare Capes summer resident Dave Cameron says he’s now “champing at the bit” to get back out west.
The 59-year-old Kinkora native is heading into his second season as an assistant coach on Glen Gulutzan’s staff with the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames, and is excited to pick up from where the team left off.
For Cameron, personally, this year will be different. When he was hired last year, just months after he was let go as Ottawa Senators head coach, it was the first time, he said, that he took a job without knowing anyone on staff.
“Obviously, you’re more settled now,” he said in assessing his change from last year to this. “You have your residence, you know your city, you know the staff that you’re working with, and you know your players on a personal level.”
Cameron lives about a 10-to-15-minute commute from the Saddledome – the Flames’ home arena.
“I love the city. There’s lots of outdoor stuff; there’s lots of biking trails, lots of parks. There’s lots of things, if you’re active that you can take part in,” he declared.
He also enjoys Calgary’s fans.
“They’re really passionate about their team,” he acknowledged.
The Flames finished fourth in the Pacific Division last season, earning the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, but were bounced by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
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Moving to assistant coach from head coach hasn’t been an adjustment, Cameron said, noting he’s been in that role before. And he said he’s enjoying the role.
“As an assistant coach, all you want is to trust your head coach, that he gives you something to do and allows you to do it and that you have some input, and Glen was real good with all the assistant coaches in that we all had our assignments.”
While Cameron’s main role is heading up the power play, he said all of the assistant coaches have input on all aspects.
The Flames will start their rookie camp tournament on Sept. 9, and the main camp a week later.
“That’s the million-dollar question,” Cameron responds when asked if the Flames are stronger this year than last.
“We’re together now for a year, our staff and team, so the challenge is to get better. There’s no reason to think we won’t. A big part will hinge on how much work (the players) put in during the summer,” he said. “We’ve been in contact with them all summer and, there’s no doubt in my mind, with the character we have, that the guys are putting the work in, and we expect to be better. . .
“After our slow start last year, we felt we were a team that created a little bit of buzz as a team that was on its game and could play with anybody.”
The Flames have also added some pieces to the puzzle that Cameron believes will make them stronger.
The team picked up defenceman Michael Stone at the draft deadline, and subsequently re-signed him. They added steady former New York Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic, and stabilized their netminding with the addition of Mike Smith. “We’re excited about our club, and we’re looking to get at it.”
At A Glance
A look at Dave Cameron:
Born July 29, 1958.
Has played in NHL, IHL, CHL and AHL.
Played in the NHL from 1981 to 1984 with the Colorado Rockies and New Jersey Devils.
Recorded 25 goals and 53 points in 168 NHL games.