Calgary Flames call-up Nick DeSimone logs NHL debut

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BELMONT PARK, NY — One in every of Nick DeSimone’s largest followers instantly hustled to catch a flight.

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As quickly as Nick was in a position to verify to family members that he could be within the Calgary Flames’ lineup for Monday’s matchup towards the New York Islanders, his older brother Phil was on the transfer.

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Nick was about to log his NHL debut. Phil wasn’t going to overlook it.

“I used to be within the OR, really,” mentioned Phil DeSimone, who additionally performed skilled puck earlier than transitioning to a profession in medical gross sales. “Fortunately, a few of my teammates have been in a position to cowl the remainder of my workday and I booked a flight, rushed residence to vary garments and made it simply in time.

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“I would not miss it for the world. I simply mentioned, ‘I’ve to be at this recreation, it doesn’t matter what.’ ”

One in every of DeSimone’s finest buddies, because it turned out, was additionally there to witness his first shifts at hockey’s highest degree.

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The Flames summoned a pair of blue-liners — DeSimone and Dennis Gilbert — to affix them for a three-game roadie that began Monday on Lengthy Island. These two grew up collectively within the Buffalo space.

DeSimone, only a couple weeks shy of his twenty eighth birthday, skated the customary solo lap throughout pre-game warm-up at UBS Area. He was working alongside Connor Mackey on the Flames’ third pairing.

“I am so completely satisfied for him, clearly,” Gilbert beamed. “He is undoubtedly excited, however he is a really level-headed man, an older man, mature, a frontrunner. I am certain he’ll do nice.”

DeSimone and Gilbert have been first teammates with the Buffalo Junior Sabers, briefly lived collectively and usually labored as protection companions throughout their summer season spins. These friends have lengthy spit-balled about the opportunity of enjoying for a similar professional group, one thing that lastly got here to fruition in July when each signed contracts with the Flames.

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They have been working side-by-side this fall with the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers and, at almost midnight Saturday, acquired comparable telephone calls. They have been every being recalled by the massive membership.

“They mentioned, ‘We depart tomorrow so pack your baggage,’ ” DeSimone mentioned with a smile. “Final 12 months, guys needed to fly from California (when the Flames’ prime affiliate membership was positioned in Stockton). So I am unable to complain in any respect.”

His large brother, Phil, wasn’t complaining both as he scrambled to rearrange a flight from Buffalo to JFK.

Nick has been knocking at this door for five-plus years, ever since being signed by the San Jose Sharks as an undrafted free agent out of Union School.

Whereas he has earned a number of call-ups throughout his stint with the Sharks, he was by no means plugged into the lineup. The correct-hander amassed greater than 300 appearances within the minors — a tally that features each regular-season and playoff dates — as he waited for this chance.

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DeSimone is now in his second winter within the Flames’ system. Proof they assume extremely of his character, he wears an ‘A’ for the Wranglers.

“Clearly completely satisfied to be right here. That is the place you wish to be,” mentioned DeSimone after Monday’s morning skate at UBS Area. “It means rather a lot. It is superior. It is thrilling. It is why you play — to be on this locker-room. However on the finish of the day, it is nonetheless a enterprise day. It is a recreation day and it is a workforce that wants a win proper now. That is all you give attention to.”

Defensive depth was imagined to be a power for the 2022-23 Flames, though they’ve been stretched skinny by a hat-trick of absences. Chris Tanev and Michael Stone are at the moment injured, whereas Oliver Kylington stays away from the workforce as a result of private causes. (The Flames additionally misplaced Juuso Valimaki, who was claimed on waivers by the Arizona Coyotes.)

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Subsequent up on deck is Gilbert, who has up to now totaled 25 nights of NHL know-how however hasn’t been noticed in ‘The Present’ in shut to 2 years. The 26-year-old lefty was scratched towards the Isles.

“I’ve gone by the call-up course of a bunch over the previous few years,” Gilbert mentioned. “It is simply essential to be somebody who has a extremely good angle and to convey constructive vitality to the workforce, change it up with a brand new face or no matter.

“After which once you get on the ice, simply do what you bought right here — play easy, play exhausting, play the precise method and play to your id.”

As he tried to comply with his trajectory within the minor-hockey ranks, Gilbert thought of DeSimone to be one thing of a job mannequin.

In recent times, it is extra been extra of the reverse.

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“I nonetheless keep in mind his first recreation in Chicago,” DeSimone mentioned of his shut buddy. “I believe he is performed 20- or 30-some video games within the NHL and I’ve tried to look at as many as I might. It was superior watching him when he was in Chicago and in Colorado, and we talked by all of it, day-after-day. So it has been fairly cool.”

Monday was going to be actually, actually cool.

This time, Gilbert was watching and DeSimone was dwelling out his childhood dream.

“He is been placing within the work and at each degree, he is needed to show himself,” mentioned Phil, whose personal enjoying resume included stops within the AHL, ECHL and professional leagues in Austria, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland. “Tonight, hopefully, is the primary of many video games for him. Our complete household, we’re very excited for him. It has been an extended journey, however he is had a terrific profession up to now and he can hopefully prolong that within the NHL for a number of years. We’re simply overjoyed.”

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

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