Some tributes just aren't meant to be.
The Calgary Flames welcomed former defenseman Juuso Valimaki back to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday in a 3-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes. Although Valimaki played a small role with the Flames through three seasons in Calgary, the team decided to give him a small tribute in his return to Alberta anyways.
They may as well have not done it, honestly, as the team egregiously misspelled his first name in the graphic displayed on the jumbotron during the game's first TV timeout.
The error may be indicative of Valimaki's time in Calgary, who failed to cement a role for himself in the Flames defensive corps after he was selected with the 16th overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. In 82 games with Calgary, the 24-year-old registered a measly three goals and 13 assists, with 48 penalty minutes and a minus-four. He never averaged over 16 minutes of ice-time in his first three seasons in the NHL.
Valimaki was put on waivers prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, and was claimed by the Coyotes on Oct. 9. After he was claimed, Valimaki appeared on Calgary's Sportsnet 690 The Fan to talk about his fresh start.
“All you can really ask, as a player, is for an opportunity,” Valimaki said. “I’m just really happy that I got to kind of start fresh again and just get an opportunity to play and be in every night and not just play 10 minutes.
The Tampere, Finland native is having a much better time in Arizona, registering six points in 19 games while logging a career-high 16:52 average time on ice. The Coyotes currently hold a 7-12-4 record, sitting in seventh place in the Central Division.
The tribute was a classy gesture from the Flames to shoutout a young NHLer still trying to find his footing in the big leagues. But it seems like it was only an afterthought, just like Valimaki was during his time in Calgary.
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