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On Monday night, former Calgary Flames star forward Johnny Gaudreau will return to the Saddledome for the first time in his National Hockey League career as a member of the visiting team. It will no doubt make for a memorable moment, one was or another, but how he will be received by the fans after he chose to take less money to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets remains to be seen.
Although fans were probably not thrilled with Gaudreau when the initial decision was made, so much has transpired since then, including a blockbuster trade that would bring Johnny Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar to Calgary, that perhaps time has healed at least some of those wounds.
Gaudreau though isn't convinced and when he was asked about his return to the Saddledome this evening he admitted that he expects there will be fans who will voice their displeasure with him.
“If I get cheers, that’ll be awesome," admitted Gaudreau as per NHL.com. "And if I get booed, and I’m sure I will, that’s OK too. It shows how supportive they are to their team. It’s a great hockey city, and I wouldn't expect anything else.”
Gaudreau's comments were actually very relatable given that he admitted he would probably boo himself if the shoe were on the other foot. Gaudreau even went so far as to say that, if a player on his favorite team in the National Football League the Philadelphia Eagles were to make a similar move he would probably be upset as well.
"The Calgary Flames have a great passionate fanbase, a great organization. And I get it," said Gaudreau. "Like any sports team, you don’t want to see players leave. I’m a big Philadelphia Eagles fan and if (star quarterback) Jalen Hurts were to leave, I’d probably boo him too."
The Flames fan base welcomed back forward Matthew Tkachuk with open arms earlier in the season, but Tkachuk handled his departure in a way that allowed the Flames to net a huge return in a trade. Gaudreau on the other hand left the Flames hanging at the final hour, leaving as a free agent, taking less money to go to Columbus, and perhaps most important of all leaving the Flames and their fans empty handed.
Whether or not that will prove to be enough to taint the reception he receives upon his return tonight, we will just have to wait and see.