It’s been a long week for Kevin Fiala, and that’s probably putting it lightly.
After signing a two-year, $6 million contract a week and a half ago, Fiala has been stuck in Gothenburg, Sweden waiting on a work visa.
“It took longer than I thought,” Fiala said. “Now I’m here, so I’m very happy.”
Logistically, Fiala got everything sorted out on Thursday, traveled for roughly 16 hours on Friday, passed coach Bruce Boudreau’s vaunted skating test on Saturday, and will hit the road with the team on Sunday.
Asked point blank whether he’s worried about being behind after missing more than a week of training camp, Fiala confidently dissented, noting how he’s been working hard throughout the summer.
His only worry at the moment is the jet lag, understandable after crossing over multiple time zones, though he doesn’t expect that to last very long.
There’s a chance he could play in Sunday’s preseason game against the rival Colorado Avalanche, and even if he doesn’t, he’s looking forward to the weeklong road trip.
“It’s very exciting to be back with the team and we’re going to have a trip with just the guys,” Fiala said. “It’s going to be very fun for sure.”
That said, Fiala is excited to get back into the lineup. As hard as he’s worked this offseason, he knows nothing can replicate game action.
“No matter how hard you practice in the summer, the first game, you’re always going to be dead,” Fiala said. “I’m looking forward to those games.”
This will be an important campaign for Fiala, who was dubbed a “gamebreaker” by former general manager Paul Fenton and will be relied upon as a goal scorer. He figures to play a top-six role, more than likely playing alongside Eric Staal and opposite Jason Zucker.
“I’m ready,” Fiala said. “It’s going to be a fresh start for me. I’ve got a little bit fresh air in my in my head from the summer and it’s going to be a new me for sure.”