|(above) DU alum Chris Butler was traded on the eve of the NHL Draft to Calgary|
by Vicki Hall
The newest member of the Calgary Flames defensive corps credits his mother for passing down the inner fire necessary for a career in the National Hockey League.
"I would say I probably get my competitive side from my mom a little more than I do my dad," Chris Butler said Saturday via cellphone from his off-season home in St. Louis. "She doesn't mess around."
The Boston Bruins actually selected Butler's dad Doug in the fifth round of the 1977 NHL entry draft. He toiled for two seasons in the American Hockey League before calling it a career.
Butler's mother Martha played field hockey at St. Louis University.
"You carry around a big wooden stick in field hockey," Butler said with a chuckle. "I think she knew how to use it pretty well."
Butler, 24, chooses to look at the positive side of Saturday's trade from Buffalo to Calgary. On Saturday morning, the Sabres finalized a deal that saw Butler and centre Paul Byron, 22, head west for defenceman Robyn Regehr, forward Ales Kotalik and a secondround draft pick in 2012.
"I just had a chance to talk to coach (Brent) Sutter," Butler explained. "He said they're really trying to get a group of defencemen there who are mobile and can contribute offensively but at the same time be responsible defensively.
"I like to hear that. I think that's the way I look at my game."
Butler broke into the NHL in 2008-09, registering two goals and six points in 47 games. The following season, the six-foot-one, 203-pounder suited up for 59 games and scored 21 points. One problem: he went minus-15 in the process.
"If you didn't read or know, he fell off a cliff in '09-10," said agent Allain Roy. "He never got going until late last year."
During the stretch run, Butler indeed logged steady minutes paired with Tyler Myers.
"Things turned around and were really headed in the right direction for me," Butler said. "So it was a good mindset for me coming into the off-season."
Buffalo GM Darcy Regier praised the developing rearguard.
"He's a terrific person," Regier told reporters in St. Paul. "A good player. Unfortunately, these are decisions you have to make . . . because of what you think are the needs. And Calgary was insistent on him being part of the deal. Chris Butler is an outstanding young man with, I think, tremendous upside in the league. Very good puckmover, very good skater. And I think he'll have a very good career."