BOSTON, MA — The smile? It beamed. Bright.
So glowing, in fact, it glistened overtop of the sweat beading down on the nose of Matt Stajan following one of the lengthier skates of his season.
And with good reason, too.
“It was an exciting morning, we welcomed little Elliot Emerson Stajan to the world, he’s doing great and his mother is doing awesome… she’s such a trooper,” said Stajan, relaying the news of a boy born into the world on Monday. “We’re very happy obviously with the way things went.”
One would be hard pressed to find two prouder parents, Katie and Matt.
Especially true in light of what they’ve been through.
Elliot’s arrival comes one day shy of the first birthday of their first child Emerson, who passed shortly after birth.
“The experiences you go through in life are obviously a big part of your makeup and the way you approach things,” Stajan said. “You never know what’s going to be thrown at you or what is going to happen. You just have to deal with certain things and I’m lucky I have the best support system with my wife, she’s my best friend.
“You go through the challenges that are given to you and you also have the happy and miracles that happen to you which we experienced this week.
“I just try and be myself and take things in stride. I don’t want to get too personal and stuff and the way I am. The dressing room and all my friends know what kind of person I am and that will never change no matter what.”
With the loss of Emerson, the Flames gave Stajan as much time away from the rink as required.
With Elliot, Calgary followed suit as best they could.
“The team was obviously great with my situation,” he said. “We valued that time, watching a miracle be with you. It was not enough time, I think, if you ask any new parent you never want to leave your newborn. He’s in good hands, my mother and father-in-law are there with Katie.”
Stajan is back with the bunch.
The road has been a long one in his absence.
The Flames are halfway through a season-high seven-game road trip that exclusively features Eastern Conference opponents and, though only away for a week, Stajan has plenty of catching up to do.
In the absence of the 31-year-old, plenty has happened.
The Flames shipped off Curtis Glencross; welcomed David Schlemko.
They also lost captain Mark Giordano to injury.
“I just missed him but I’ve been in contact with him,” said Stajan of Giordano, who is back in Calgary and is soon expected to undergo surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon. “It’s a tough situation. I’m not going to sugar coat it — it sucks. It sucks for him and it sucks for our team.
“For our team we have to move forward. For him, he’s got tough rehab assignment ahead but the way he works he will be back even better when he’s able to come back and play.
“He’s obviously our ultimate leader and we are where we are because of him. We’ll try to do the job to finish off the season strong and finish the job that he’s helped us start and get into the playoffs.”
Stajan, too, will try lending a hand in that. The veteran centre isn’t quite sure when his share will come, though.
Having been skating back in Calgary, he insists he’s ready whenever coach Bob Hartley gives him the tap.
“I skated a lot when I was back home so whenever Bob needs me I’ll be ready to go,” Stajan said. “Obviously when you’re not with the team you try your best. (Skills coach) Dominic Pittis and I skated together back in Calgary, we worked really hard and Mason skated with is last week when he was home. I feel pretty comfortable and ready to go. It was a long night last night flying in so hopefully I will be able to get back in tomorrow.”
Get into the lineup Friday.
Get home Monday, to Katie and Elliot.
“I’ll be eager to get back once we hopefully win a few games here on the road,” he said.
“As you get older and play a long time, you start to see how things work. And when you have a newborn and family, when you leave the rink, you really focus on what life’s all about. But I think we’re very passionate guys and make it to this league because we want to win, we care and we push ourselves.
“You come here, try your best and that’s all you can ask of yourself. You play hard and give your teammates the best you can give.
“And you try and do the same at home with your family.”