Matt Stajan's strength an inspiration to Flames | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMatt Stajan's strength an inspiration to Flames

Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 | 01:24 PM

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Veteran forward Matt Stajan, right, has played seven games since he and his wife, Katie, lost their newborn son. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press) Veteran forward Matt Stajan, right, has played seven games since he and his wife, Katie, lost their newborn son. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

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A month after Matt Stajan and his wife, Katie, lost their newborn son Emerson, the veteran forward is back playing with the Calgary Flames, his perseverance an inspiration to his teammates.

Matt Stajan was given the option of taking the rest of the season off when he and his wife, Katie, lost their son Emerson on March 3, shortly after his birth.

But a couple weeks later Stajan was back skating with his teammates, and on March 18 the Calgary Flames' veteran forward returned to action.

"You want to get back to playing," Stajan said before his Flames played the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday. "You have to move on. It's never going to be easy. Next year it won't be easy. Ten years from now it won't be easy. But in life you have to take what's thrown at you and do what you need to do and then move on.

"That's something we're figuring out as a family. When you play hockey and you're a member of a team, the guys are like a second family. They have given me a clear mind for a bit. It's been great for me."

Stajan missed eight games as he and Katie mourned their infant's death. Tuesday's game against his former team will be his eighth since he returned to the lineup.

When he scored in his third game back, on Mar. 22, with a second-period backhand against the Oilers in Edmonton, he pointed to heaven and the rest of the hockey world cheered.

Trying times

The 30-year-old Stajan has two goals and six points in seven games since his family tragedy, earning the admiration of his teammates through the way he has handled such a trying situation.

"The admiration was already there," said Flames forward Mike Cammalleri, who has 11 goals and 18 points in his last 16 games. "I've known Matt since we were both kids growing up here [in Toronto]. He's not only a teammate now, he and his wife have become good friends with me and my wife.

"To see him and Katie go through this has been tough. We just do our best to support him and let him know how much we appreciate him and we're here for him to give him strength. Hopefully, it's been therapeutic for him."

The Flames will miss the playoffs for the fifth year in a row, but the way the likes of Stajan and Cammalleri have played as of late has, at least, kept the end of the Flames' season interesting.

"Obviously, this has been really tough," said tough guy Brian McGrattan, who is Stajan's close friend and linemate. McGrattan and his wife, Michelle, spent part of the Olympic break on vacation with the Stajans.

"I think having him back among his teammates, in a team atmosphere, has helped him to start moving on," McGrattan continued. "He's a good teammate, he's one of our captains, and it's been good to have him back."

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