Jacob Markstrom says 'it's a privilege' to play in front of fans this season
When the Calgary Flames signed Jacob Markstrom as a free agent prior to last season, many thought he would be the missing piece of the puzzle to take the Flames far in the playoffs.
It didn't quite work out that way; the Flames missed the playoffs and Markstrom is the first to admit he needs to be better.
The 31-year-old posted decent numbers, he was 22-19-2, had a 2.68 goals-against average and had three shutouts.
But the goaltender wants to get to another level with the Flames, and said that's why he worked so hard in the off season.
"It's all detail work, especially the on-ice stuff," Markstrom said.
"Then, just get the cardio up and work on a bunch of stuff like getting stronger, getting fitter and getting healthier – and the mental part of it – and kind of go through your game and see what you have to do to get better."
Markstrom is used to playing a lot of games but he could be in for a big workload this season as it's likely he'll be selected to play for Sweden in the Winter Olympics.
Markstrom says that's exactly what he wants.
"You know, if you tell me to play hockey games every day, I'll do it," he said.
"If I wake up every day and get to pick one thing to do every day – it's to play hockey games.
"It's a privilege to be out there on the ice and play in front of some fans this year," he said. "So that's going to be fun."
Markstrom is going to make another change this season; he's going to be wearing a new goalie mask painted by local artist Jordon Bourgeault.
Markstrom said part of the paint job was a tribute to teammate Chris Tanev.
"It was the guy who painted it, it was actually his idea," he said. "He asked me if I know anyone that was missing some teeth and I knew just the guy."
Tanev says it's an honour to be a part of Markstrom's mask.
"I'll take it," he said. "I mean, if he wants to put something about me on his mask, that's awesome. I didn't realize whose teeth they were at the start, and then I sort of saw the snaggle-tooth at the front and said, 'yeah, that's probably mine.'"
Markstrom said it's recognition of how tough Tanev is.
"I don't think anyone is giving it to him," he said. "I mean, when you eat pucks nobody is giving it to you."
"I'm wearing a full face mask and he's wearing a visor so I don't think anybody is giving it to you when you block and eat one-timers from pretty much every right-handed winger on the (power play.)"
Bourgeault said us he's painting a second mask for Markstrom.
"The other one is going to be the exact same design but a red skull," he said.
Markstrom is still wearing his old mask in practice but will no doubt debut the new one soon.