Akim Aliu to Make NHL Debut with the Calgary Flames Against Vancouver Canucks

Delete ThisContributor IApril 5, 2012

Photo via Calgary Flames Official Facebook account
Photo via Calgary Flames Official Facebook account

It’s been a long week for the Calgary Flames leading up to tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Calgary was officially eliminated from the playoffs after an overtime loss to Vancouver on Saturday. Since then, the Flames haven’t played a game—the team has only practiced and reflected on a season that, for all intents and purposes, is over.

Two games remain in their schedule, but they don’t have many implications for the Flames.

The Canucks, however, are still looking to lock up the President’s Trophy. The team currently sits two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues at the top of the Western Conference with two games left to play.

One thing Flames fans have to look for tonight is the NHL debut of one of their newest prospects, Akim Aliu.

The former Chicago Blackhawks second-round pick was acquired by the Flames in January for John Negrin. Aliu has 10 goals and four assists in 40 games with the Abbotsford Heat this season and is set to become a RFA at the end of the season.

Aliu is a hard-nosed player who will play on the second line (according to the Calgary Flames website) with Mike Cammalleri and Matt Stajan and will wear number 29.

Aliu first made headlines back in 2005, when he and teammate Steve Downie fought in practice. The fight was a result of Aliu refusing to take place in rookie hazing incident.

The altercation in practice is only a fraction of Aliu’s story. He was born in Nigeria, raised in Russia, and then moved to Canada and started playing hockey at only 12-years-old. 

His journey in hockey hasn’t been short, either.  When he laces up the skates for the Flames tonight, it’ll be the ninth professional hockey team he will play for in his short pro career.

A cool story for fans of a team that is playing for nothing but pride.