'I didn't see it coming': Flames' Sam Bennett surprised by scratch

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CALGARY — Being held out of the Calgary Flames' lineup on Thursday caught Sam Bennett by surprise.

The 24-year-old forward arrived for morning skate expecting to face the Winnipeg Jets alongside his teammates. Instead he was a healthy scratch.

"I didn't see it coming," he told reporters Friday. "I walked in and I was on the taxi squad and not dressing with the team, not skating with the team."

Coach Geoff Ward said Thursday that he made the roster move to "get some fresh people in the lineup." Leaving Bennett out was a "coach's decision," he added.

Watching the Flames (4-5-1) drop a 4-1 decision to the Jets wasn't fun, Bennett said.

"Obviously you want to be out there and help your team win. I think I can help this team, I can bring a lot to contribute," he said. "And it’s frustrating to not be out there on the ice.”

The move to Calgary's taxi squad came just days after Bennett's agent, Darren Ferris, revealed that the former fourth-overall pick had asked for a trade.

Bennett declined to comment on the trade request Friday, saying he'll leave the business talk to Ferris and Flames general manager Brad Treliving.

“My job right now is just to play hockey and do my job," he said. "I think I’m just going to leave everything else to them and they’re going to figure it out."

Talk of a move hasn't been a distraction, Bennett added.

“I don’t even think about it when it comes to playing hockey," he said. "I think as soon as it’s game time, as soon as you start getting ready for the game, all that stuff disappears and you focus on what you can do to help the team win."

Bennett has one assist and is minus-five in nine games this season. Last year, he made 59 regular-season appearances, posting eight goals and four assists.

He had a career-high 36-point (18 goals, 18 assists) campaign in 2015-16, his first full NHL season.

Though he practiced with the team on Friday, Bennett was candid when asked whether he'll be in the lineup when the Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

“I’m not sure. I hope so. I think I will be but at this point, I really don’t know," he said.

Ward said Friday that he hadn't yet made a decision on whether Bennett would be back in the lineup for the season's first Battle of Alberta.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press