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Huska says young Flames must earn ice time: 'I don't believe in giving free games'

Calgary Flames Connor Zary - Getty Images

The Calgary Flames may have been eliminated from playoff contention Thursday, but head coach Ryan Huska says ice time will still have to be earned by young players over the final stretch.

Huska’s comments on Friday came in response to whether players like Conor Zary, who was scratched for Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, can expect more playing time over the next seven games.

 "We're not in the playoffs right now, but I don't believe in giving free games to people just because they're young," Huska said. :What type of message and lesson are they learning along the way? If you wanna see the way games are played, you look at MacKenzie Weegar. Right now, he's playing every game like it's his last game. And that's the expectation we have for all of our players.

"Just because they're young or someone that's up and coming should not be a reason why they're getting games.”

Zary, 22, has 12 goals and 30 points in 56 games as a rookie this season. His ice time dropped below 13 minutes in each of the previous three games before being scratched Thursday.

The Flames have missed the playoffs for a second straight year with a 34-36-5 record in Huska's first season as head coach.