Blake Coleman of the Calgary Flames enjoys his return home after the season – Calgary | The Canadian News

Add dressing up for NHL playoff games in his home state for the first time in his career to an eventful few years for Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman.

The 30-year-old winger from Plano, Texas may wear the colors of the enemy at the American Airlines Center in Dallas during the Flames’ first-round series against the Stars, but the moment was special for him.

After winning back-to-back Stanley Cup rings with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Coleman signed a six-year deal with Calgary last summer.

He became the first born-and-bred Texan to win a Stanley Cup in 2020, when the Lightning beat the Stars in six games in Edmonton’s playoff bubble.

New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch (1994) was born in Corpus Christi, but Leetch’s formative hockey years were spent in Connecticut.

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Spectators were not allowed in the Edmonton bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coleman played the Cup final in quiet Rogers Place.

So a packed house with plenty of familiar faces in Saturday’s Game 3 and Monday’s Game 4 at Dallas was a welcome prospect for Coleman. Plano is less than an hour’s drive northeast of Dallas.

“I grew up coming to playoff games here,” Coleman said Saturday at the American Airlines Center before Game 3 of the 1-1 series.

“I was able to play Dallas in the Stanley Cup Final, but under completely different circumstances.

“I will have a lot of support in the building. I’m sure there will be red jerseys scattered around here. I think it’s going to be a fun environment to play in.”

Coleman was two years old when the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993. The team played at Reunion Arena for the first 10 years of its life.

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Coleman and his grandmother Marie Hoffman shared a love of hockey.

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“My late grandmother was the one that got me started in hockey, and we shared that bond going to Stars games, obviously at Reunion Arena at the time, but we were very passionate about it,” the winger said.

“To be in Texas at that time, someone had to introduce you to the game. Someone had to be willing to drive 45 minutes to practice and go skating at 6am before school and stuff like that.

“My mom and my grandmother, the sacrifices they made are without a doubt the reason I had the opportunity to be where I am.”

Coleman was among the first crop of young Texans influenced by the emergence of an NHL franchise in their state, inspired by star players Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk, and electrified by a Stanley Cup win in 1999.

“It was still early, you know, the football coaches thought it was still weird,” Coleman said. “The fan base really grew quickly here. The number of ice rinks grew rapidly. People really took to and enjoyed the game of hockey here and I was no different.

“Winning the Cup in 1999 really brought hockey front and center here.”

Current Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers and brothers Seth and Caleb Jones, both defensemen for the Chicago Blackhawks, were also born in Texas just a few years after the Stars arrived.

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Calgary Police ask Calgarians to be respectful during Flames playoff run

Calgary Police ask Calgarians to be respectful during Flames playoff run

“Fortunately, we had a lot of competitive players who started playing around my age, and some of whom also played in the NHL.” Coleman said.

When Coleman’s Lightning faced the Stars in the 2020 Cup Final, he said he was “listening to everyone and everyone I played or met on a hockey rink.”

Upon arrival in Dallas, Coleman enlisted his wife Jordan, a former college football television reporter and Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, to take calls and messages.

“I made my wife my executive assistant for the week and kept all distractions out the door,” he said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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