Westgarth settles in with new team

01/13/2014 1:54 PM

01/13/2014 2:25 PM

Kevin Westgarth said he never saw it coming, that he didn't have an inkling he was about to be traded.

Westgarth wasn't playing a lot for the Canes. The forward realized the team was losing some games, that there could be a personnel shakeup, but didn't think he'd be dealt to the Calgary Flames.

"It was surprising," Westgarth said Monday after the Flames' morning skate at PNC Arena. "It's hockey and I think we knew something was going to happen in Carolina.

"It's worked out well for me in Calgary. It's a nice group of guys and very welcoming. It was nice to jump into a game right away, with no time to think about it."

Westgarth was traded Dec. 30 to the Flames for forward Greg Nemisz. The next night, he was in the Calgary lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers, getting a season-high 10:42 of ice time in a 4-1 loss.

Westgarth has played six straight games for Calgary but got just 3:39 of ice time Saturday in a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and was minus-2 for the game.

"The wins haven't been coming the way we want," he said. "We look forward to trying to keep bringing the energy and positivity and hopefully we'll get out of this slump."

The Flames (15-24-6) have dropped seven of their past eight games, and been shut out in five of the losses. Their last victory was Jan. 6 at Colorado, when they beat the Avs 4-3.

Calgary topped the Canes on Dec. 12 during Carolina's four-game Western trip. Goaltender Karri Ramo, who will start in net for the Flames tonight, had 29 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory.

The Flames, who have won three of the past four games against the Canes, will play without veteran forward Mike Cammalleri, who has a concussion. Cammalleri has a team-high 13 goals.

Westgarth, the son-in-law of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, made his offseason home in Raleigh while playing for the Los Angeles Kings. Traded to the Canes on Jan. 13, 2013, it wasn't so much joining a new team as being able to play for the team in his adopted hometown.

Westgarth, 29, was popular with his Canes teammates and always upbeat, the consummate pro, even as he played in just 12 of the Canes’ first 39 games this season. When he was traded to Calgary, with the Canes in a five-game winless rut, it got everyone's attention in the room.

"We all know that it's part of the game and I think we've become accustomed to that," Canes defenseman Jay Harrison said. Monday. "But although you're aware of it, as for how it affects you, you're losing a good teammate but you can't let it shake you in that respect. It's all part of the code.

"As much as we're good friends, I said to Kevin, 'This is what we do and this is what warriors do. It's how we've chosen to make our living and it goes with the territory, unfortunately.'"

Westgarth said he was able to spend Sunday night at home with his wife, Meagan, but did not visit with any of his former teammates.

"Just the wife and my dogs," he said, smiling. "It was nice to settle down a bit and let everything that has happened the last couple of weeks kind of sink in."

Canes beat writer Chip Alexander

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