“It’s never been a dream of mine,” says Marek Hrivik, having activated the Bluetooth in his car while highway-driving home to Zlina, Slovakia, “to play only in the AHL.
“So I’ve been looking for a different opportunity. I’ve been with New York for five years and it just wasn’t going to work there.
“I had a bunch of teams interested but I thought I had the best chance in Calgary and that’s why I signed there.
“Obviously the interest I felt from the organization was also important. That was probably the No. 1 thing. You always want to feel wanted.”
Since joining the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Hrivik – a dependable scorer in three seasons as a member of the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL – logged 270 AHL games with the Hartford Wolfpack and just 21 in Manhattan.
Internationally, he’s represented Slovakia at two World Junior Championships and the senior Worlds in 2014.
He’s still searching for his first NHL goal.
On July 1st, by mutual consent, the relationship having run its course, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound centre/left winger and the Broadway Blueshirts parted ways, Hrivik promptly agreeing to a one-year, two-way deal to become a Flame.
Whether he sticks in Calgary or is assigned back to the AHL, in Stockton, will be determined at Flames’ training camp, opening mid-September.
“There are bunch of guys in a similar position as I am, I’d say, for a fourth-line spot,” Hrivik reasons. “Money-wise, age-wise. So I think it’s going to be a decent battle.
“New York was tough because they were guys even on the fourth line making a lot of money. So many factors go into it.
“I felt I was playing better than the 21 games I got but obviously it was also a tough team to crack. A lot of good players. They went to Stanley Cup finals, conference finals, in the five years I was in the organization.
“It wasn’t as if it was a bottom-of-the-league team.”
Being out east, almost exclusively in the AHL, Hrivik’s first-hand familiarity with the Flames is rather limited.
“I know there are a couple Czech players there. You’re really not close to those teams out west, being on the other coast, so you don’t know what’s going on. You’re busy playing, practicing and there’s the time difference to consider.
“So this really is a clean start for me. Which is, I think, good. I’m really hoping for better things this year.”