When forward Steve Downie was traded to Tampa Bay early last offseason for defenseman Matt Carle, many believed it to be a sign that the Flyers’ organization had finally given up on dealing with his disciplinary issues on and off the ice. But after a year in Tampa Bay, a newly reformed Downie is starting to see the results of a more mature attitude.
“My goal was to be in the best physical shape and the best possible situation for me. I’ve done that,” said Downie, who benefited greatly from a summer conditioning program. “I’m just going to let things take care of itself. It’s not my job to worry about where I’m going to play or what my role is going to be. I’m just here to work on my game and get better. I end up where I end up.”
The Flyers’ former 29th overall selection in 2005 was rewarded for his tremendous offseason change in demeanor by being placed on a line with Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay to start training camp. The line should be together for the team’s first preseason game tonight against the Dallas Stars.
“It was a lot of fun playing with them,” Downie told Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times. “It’s a great opportunity regardless of whether I end up with them or not. Lines change numerous times during the year; that’s why I’m not looking too much into it.”
In his first year with the Lightning organization, Downie was suspended three games for a hit on Kyle McLaren, then suspended 20 for what the league interpreted as contact with an official. Whether the gross suspensions were deserved or not is still up for question, but there is no doubting that the 5’11, 200 lbs., power forward has a reputation and needs to stray from it to have a successful career.
“The game is so fast, you really don’t have time to think about ‘I’m not going to do this. I’m going to do this,’ ” Downie said. “I play on the edge, and I play with a lot of emotion. But as you get older, you learn to control your emotions in certain situations.”