Gone 'til next year

It was an inevitable part of the situation, but the sentiment is still the same. Sven Baertschi was returned to the Western League’s Portland Winterhawks on Saturday after the Flames activated Lee Stempniak from the injured reserve. Excuse me while I have a quick cry.

No offense to Lee Stempniak – I’m sure he’s a good dude and all – but that kind of sucks for the Flames and their fans, doesn’t it? Baertschi was electric for the Flames in his time with the club. Obviously five games is a small sample size, but having him up for those five games was a giant freaking tease. Now we must wait another full season to see what Baertschi can do as a permanent pro.

Obviously the transfer agreement is what it is and the Flames knew this going in so the team can’t be too devastated right now, but if I’m a fan I really wish this guy was sticking around. Here’s what the Calgary Herald’s John Down got from Jay Feaster regarding the return.

“The agreement between the CHL and the NHL is very clear regarding the conditions and circumstances under which a player from major junior may be recalled to his NHL team, as well as when he must be returned to his major junior club,” said Feaster.

“When we made the decision to recall Sven under emergency conditions we were not certain whether he would be with us for a game or two or perhaps a longer period; however, we knew that once two of our injured forwards returned, he would be going back to Portland.

“Blake Comeau returned from injury last week, and today we are very pleased to announce that Lee Stempniak has been cleared by our doctors to play. As we told Sven, we are extremely pleased with the way he played during this brief recall, and now we want him to pick up where he left off in the WHL.”

Again, Baertschi was phenomenal in the brief amount of time he spent with the Flames and it’s truly disappointing that we can’t see him with the big club longer to keep his momentum rolling. As Flames fans know, past rookie performance doesn’t always tie in with their future.

Baertschi gave Flames fans a glimpse of the future when he scored in three straight games, his second, third and fourth outings. It was the first time a Flames rookie accomplished that feat since Hnat Domenichelli in the 1997-98 season.

Here’s hoping Sven doesn’t take the road Hnat travelled by. Domenichelli has been out of the NHL since 2003 and can currently be found playing for HC Lugano in Switzerland, as well as every All-Name team ever. Ideally the Swiss-born Baertschi doesn’t head home for reasons beyond his control.

On a lighter note, watch this Sven highlight pack.

What are your expectations for Baertschi going forward?