Bearing a carefully-constructed splint on his right hand to help mend a broken finger, Matt Calvert was asked about its red and blue color.
“It’s Jackets fever across the city,” he replied with a smile.
And even though the past couple of days have not been easy for the 23-year-old, today was a proud and happy day for a kid who has come along way from the Canadian prairie city of Brandon, Manitoba. He signed a new two-year contract with the Blue Jackets this morning, keeping him in the fold and part of the future for a team that has a bright one.
Energetic and consistent play in his third professional season has caught the attention of many people around the NHL, and Calvert has been an integral piece in the Blue Jackets’ playoff run that’s still raging on in the season’s final week.
Though it’s a playoff push he is forced to sit and watch after his recent injury (admitting to not being the best ‘fan’), Calvert was most at ease knowing this group of teammates is one he will continue to be part of.
“It’s where I want to be, and to know I’ll be here with this group of guys for the next two years is really exciting,” Calvert said. “We’re building something special here and it makes it that much more exciting. I’m ready to move forward and hopefully the boys can get into the playoffs here.
“It’s a great group of guys here, not only on the ice but off the ice too. We have a lot of fun together, we’re really starting to mesh together and there’s great chemistry in the room, so it’s fun and exciting to know you have a little security with a one-way contract. That’s the goal coming off your entry level deal; you want to be with the big club all season. There’s a lot more work to be done here and hopefully we can get back in the playoffs and I can play again this year.”
The one-way deal is especially important to Calvert, who burst on to the NHL scene with Columbus in 2011 during the club’s last flirtation with the postseason. He notched a hat trick against the Phoenix Coyotes and scored some important goals to get the Jackets in the mix during the season’s final month.
But his sophomore season wasn’t as easy, and though he began the year with the Blue Jackets, Calvert struggled to find his game and was assigned to Springfield (AHL) to get his confidence back. It worked, too, as Calvert was one of the Falcons’ best offensive players with 17 goals and 36 points in 56 games.
He used that strong finish to thrust himself into another big opportunity in Springfield to start this season during the NHL lockout. The Falcons – currently one of the top teams in the AHL – started fast out of the gate and Calvert was a pace-setter in the scoring department. His 10 goals and 21 points in 34 games with Springfield this season gave him a big boost when recalled by Columbus in January.
“Matty’s a guy that young kids can look up to and it just shows (what happens when) you never give up,” center Ryan Johansen said. “He was a smaller kid growing up and was always hearing ‘you’re too small, you can’t play’ but he didn’t care. He comes in every day, does his job and it got him a new contract in the NHL.
“It’s huge for him, his family and the team. It’s definitely a day in his life that he’ll always remember. He’s one of those guys that earns every penny. You get the same effort day in and day out, and you can’t say enough about him…he’s an all-around great player.”
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