Gaudreau Leaves Frozen Four For NHL Career
BC Senior Arnold Signs Too; Both To Make Debut Sunday
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
Johnny Gaudreau is headed to Calgary, and he’s taking Bill Arnold with him.
The Boston Herald reported earlier on Friday that Gaudreau was about to sign with the Calgary Flames, the team that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Immediately following Gaudreau accepting the Hobey Baker Award, the Flames announced they had signed both Gaudreau and his BC linemate, Bill Arnold.
“It’s (going) be really special to have my family there and to have Billy there,” Gaudreau said. “To have Billy’s family there that I’m really close with. It’s just not me alone so it’s going to be a special experience.”
He later added, “Bill Arnold is one of the better players I've ever gotten the chance to play with.”
The Flames media relations staff was on site here at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia. Calgary head coach Bob Hartley sent Gaudreau a text message earlier on Friday telling the BC junior that he would make his NHL debut on Sunday, when the Flames are in Vancouver to play the Canucks. Arnold will also make his NHL debut.
The Eagles lost to Union, 5-4, on Thursday night in the national semifinals.
"This past month has been pretty crazy with hockey and what I’m going to do with next year,” Gaudreau said. “I’m finally excited to get some stress off my shoulders and play hockey now."
While Gaudreau and Arnold met with the media, a car was waiting downstairs ready to whisk the new Flames to the airport, where the team had a private jet waiting to bring them to Calgary. They’ll meet the Flames there tomorrow and fly on the team charter to the season finale on Sunday in Vancouver.
Gaudreau will wear No. 53 for the Flames; Arnold will wear No. 46.
"I’m just trying to take it step-by-step, day-by-day here,” Arnold said. “Just go through and make sure I’m taking everything in and enjoying the moment because it only happens once. I’m going to love every moment of it."
The Flames sent personnel to Philadelphia to watch Arnold and Gaudreau, including former Flame Craig Conroy, who is now special assistant to Calgary general manager Brian Burke.
Gaudreau’s family, along with Arnold’s are now headed to Vancouver as well to watch the pair make their NHL debuts.
"We talked it out before,” said Gaudreau’s father, Guy. “As parents we wanted him to get his degree. Not so much about the hockey. But as a hockey person, he's reached the level where he needs to challenge himself a little more. I'm mixed both ways. My wife isn't mixed at all, she doesn't want him to go. But she won't interfere with his wishes because he's worked so hard to get where he has to go. But we've had some pretty intense discussions."
Gaudreau averaged exactly two points per game this season, finishing with 80 (36 goals, 44 assists) in 40 games. Arnold, a senior who was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, finished his season with 53 points (14 goals, 39 assists) in 40 games.
"My first NHL game is going to be pretty exciting,” Gaudreau said. “There is a lot of first year guys there that I got to play with in Calgary in the summer and they came up and played their first [NHL] game so I’m definitely going to be talking to them and see how they did it so easily — it’s definitely going to be one of my concerns there."