Goaltender Jeff Glass signs PTO with hometown Calgary Flames

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Jeff Glass, left, looks on as Calgary Flames' Michael Frolik, from the Czech Republic, shoots wide of the net during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

One of the NHL’s feel-good stories last year is hoping to carve out an even better narrative in his hometown this fall.

Jeff Glass, who made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks last Christmas at age 32, has been inked to a PTO by the Calgary Flames – the team he grew up watching.

“I never thought being from Calgary I’d play for the Flames,” said the longtime KHL netminder from his Calgary home.

“When I was a kid my dad would get tickets from work once or twice a year so I have fond memories of watching them play at the Saddledome. I grew up idolizing Trevor Kidd. Him and Rick Tabaracci were the Flames goalies when I was young and I got to go to his goalie schools here in town. Kidd was the man. He had the cool gear – I loved everything about him.

“It’s kind of cool wearing the Flames jersey. What a small world.”

Although it has yet to be announced by the Flames, Glass agreed to a PTO with GM Brad Treliving last week and started skating informally with the Flames in town Monday.

It included many of the same lads he faced last New Year’s Eve when a slew of friends and family members watched him play his second NHL game.

Just two nights after his NHL debut in Edmonton where he stoned Connor McDavid and his Blackhawks won in overtime, his squad lost in extra time in a scenario he couldn’t have fathomed as he spent seven years toiling in the KHL.

Two summers ago, the former Kootenay Ice star, who backstopped a star-studded Canadian team to World Junior Gold in 2005, decided it was now or never to take his NHL shot.

A PTO with the Leafs turned into a two-game stint with the Marlies that ended abruptly, only to see his career resurrected later that year by the Rockford IceHogs.

He was called up last season as the Blackhawks struggled to find capable goaltending in the absence of injured Corey Crawford, leading to a Dec. 29 audition that ended with him as the game’s first star in front of his parents, wife and two-month-old daughter, Lucy.

He went on to win three of his first five starts, earning him kudos from around the hockey world for sticking with his NHL dreams.

When in Calgary he said all he wanted to do was “keep it going” in an effort to prove he was worthy of staying in the big league.

However, on a team that never did find its groove, he lost his last ten outings as part of Chicago’s uncharacteristic slide from the playoff scene.

In a summer of relative stagnancy amongst NHL goaltenders the 6-foot-3, 206-pound free agent, and his 3-7-3 record, 3.36 GAA and .898 save percentage, got no bites.

Until Treliving called.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want something done July 1 – that’s when everybody loves to sign and be able to plan your summer,” said Glass, a former third-round pick of the Ottawa Senators who spent four years in Binghamton of the AHL before a Russian excursion where he was an all-star at several stops.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been in an 11th-hour situation, here or overseas. That’s kind of part of being a goalie. I’m totally comfortable with the situation I’m in now.”

The reality is that an outstanding camp could position Glass to be an outside threat to youngsters Jon Gillies and David Rittich, who enter camp in a battle to be named Mike Smith’s backup.

Both faltered down the stretch last year as the Flames fell out of a playoff spot after Smith was injured.

However, should Glass fail to shine, he’d be released and the team would continue to follow its obvious plan, naming Rittich or Gillies to the big club and sending the other down to Stockton.

That would also pave the way for the Flames goalie of the future, Tyler Parsons, to play meaningful minutes in Stockton, as opposed to the ECHL where he had a tough year in his first season as a pro.

“No promises have been made,” said Glass.

“We’re just kind of leaving it up to how camp goes.”

Glass won’t accompany the team’s top three netminders in China for the club’s two exhibition games against Boston. The reality is, the Flames need more bodies in camp than usual as prospects left behind will continue camp here in Calgary, playing exhibition games.

He’s okay with the fact it will interrupt his plans to attend the grand opening of his second Yoga/Barre/Spin studio in North Vancouver, like the The Sweat Lab he and his wife run with former Calgary Hitmen defenceman Matt Kinch and his wife in Calgary.

“I’m okay with that,” he chuckled.

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