Chucko moves on to Minnesota

By Aaron Vickers

Hit them hard and hit them often.

It’s the motto most closely associated with Calgary Flames Head Coach and General Manager Darryl Sutter. Skate hard, hit harder. Play hard. It’s Sutter hockey.

The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks captain Kris Chucko skates hard, and hits harder. It is no coincidence, therefore, that Chucko, who embodies Sutter hockey like no other, was made the Calgary Flames most recent first round selection. Taken by the squad in the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft held in Raleigh, North Carolina in late June, the Burnaby, BC native feels he’ll fit in just fine when he dons the red, yellow and black of the Calgary Flames.

“I think so, very much,” responded Chucko on draft day of whether or not he would describe himself as a Sutter prototype. In fact, Chucko welcomes the opportunity to participate to skate as a member of the Calgary Flames organization, under the Sutter regime.

“You don’t get a lot of teams where everyone is out there paying the price,” Chucko said in regards to Sutter’s ability to get everyone to buy into the same lesson plan. “I think for him to get that going and me to come in I think I’d do well.”

The confidence displayed by Chucko isn’t lost on the Calgary organization either. It was not only the skills displayed by him as a major physical force in the BCHL that made him an attractive selection.

Chucko, 17, captained his Silverbacks during the 2003-04 season, a club that contained several 20-year-olds. Clearly the head on the shoulders of Chucko played an important role in his selection, as Calgary went to an extreme length to evaluate the off-ice persona of the 29th ranked North American skater by Central Scouting.

“I talked to Calgary twice,” explained Chucko. “I wasn’t sure if they were going to take me, it wasn’t a for sure thing.”

To Chucko, his selection may not have been a sure thing, but to the Calgary Flames, Chucko was the only alternative. The Flames, originally selecting 19th overall in the draft, traded down in the draft with the New York Rangers, in a deal that saw the Flames fall to the 24th overall selection, where they finally selected the former Brandon Wheat Kings Bantam draftee. The Flames, not only securing the 6’2, 190lb dynamo with the selection, were also able to add another pair of bodies through the trade as well, after swapping their freshly acquired 48th overall selection for the rights to the 70th and 94th overall selections.

Describing himself as a prototypical power forward, Chucko has all the necessary skills to excel at the NHL level. It will be at the University of Minnesota, the former stomping grounds of Calgary Flames defenseman Jordan Leopold, that the 2004 Interior Conference Second Team All-Star will continue to develop his already impressive skills under head coach Don Lucia and further his academics, something that Chucko values.

For now, he will be given all the opportunities required to develop his skills through the University of Minnesota.

Down the road, he’ll be counted on as a key contributor to the Calgary Flames.

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