Archive for April, 2012

A long climb

- April 5th, 2012

When he was 18, Akim Aliu figured this day would come much sooner.

After all, we’re talking about a player who was projected to maybe be a first-round draft choice when he skated with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, and he had the size and skill, as shown by a 20-goal , 42-point 104 penalty minute season with 53 games.

That was back in June of 2007.

Aliu’s NHL debut is finally due to happen Thursday night when the Flames play host to the Vancouver Canucks.

“It’s a dream come true. Sometimes you think this day will never come, but when it does come, it’s that much more special,” Aliu said after the morning skate in which he was on a line with Michael Cammalleri and Matt Stajan.

Aliu was drafted by Chicago 56th overall — he openly admitted at the time being very disappointed, and vowed to make teams which passed over him pay for it — but took a long and winding road. He admits needing to mature, and believes coming to the Flames organization was a major turning point.

The 23-year-old who was born in Nigeria and grew up in Kiev, Ukraine, before coming at Canada at age 12, was with the Winnipeg Jets organization and in the ECHL. He actually approached the Flames about giving him a chance with their AHL squad and made the most of it under Heat coach Troy Ward.

“Plan and simple, he resurrected my career,” Aliu said. “I was kind of down and out and this organization gave me an opportunity.

“All the credit goes to him and the organization.”

In 40 games for the Heat, Aliu collected 10 goals and 14 points.

In other news, the Flames will be without Alex Tanguay and David Moss, so Lance Bouma will go back into the lineup.

Also, defenceman T.J. Brodie, who suffered a concussion nearly a month ago, skated for the first time today.