A healthy Bouma ready for the 2013-14 season
WASHINGTON, DC -- Given his in-your-face style of play, it should come as no surprise Lance Bouma has had his fair share of injuries over the years.
Everything from minor bumps and bruises to maladies that kept him out of the lineup for a couple of months - he's been through that.
But he has never endured anything close to what he went through last year.
Bouma suffered a severe knee injury just three games into the 2012-13 season which ended up sidelining him for the entire campaign. To make matters worse, his knee would eventually require surgery, prolonging the recovery process.
"It was incredibly frustrating at first," Bouma told CalgaryFlames.com. "But I think I learned a lot over the year and it helped me out mentally."
Due to the NHL work stoppage, the Provost, AB product was with the Abbotsford Heat at the time and the injury was a major blow to their offensive corps.
While known primarily as an agitator who brings energy and grit to the table, Bouma had shown decent offensive upside during his time with the Heat. In the 2010-11 season, he was tied for fourth in team scoring with 12 goals and 20 points through 61 games. Prior to the injury he had one goal and seven shots in the opening three games.
"You want to be a contributor and help the team out," he sighed. "To be out so quickly ... it was tough."
It was also a blow to the Flames depth chart as they expected Bouma to be a regular in the lineup during the truncated season.
"In the summer time, when we prepared for what would have been the 2012 training camp, we expected Lance to make our hockey team," Flames general manager Jay Feaster told CalgaryFlames.com. "We expected him to be an NHLer.
"I think but for the injury, when we opened camp last year, he would have been here."
The recovery process was incredibly tedious and slow-moving. At the beginning, even the simplest of motions were trying and maintaining the mental fortitude to push through his exasperation was a challenge.
"To start, it's all about trying to get the leg straight and back to feeling normal," Bouma elucidated. "That takes a long time and for me, that was tough because I had to get my MCL feeling normal before I could have surgery.
"I did the rehab for my MCL and then I had to start all over once I had surgery, doing rehab on the ACL. It was a long year."
While Bouma did spend some time in Abbotsford during the recovery process, the Flames had in Calgary for a large chunk of time in order to monitor his progress and help him prepare for the 2013-14 season.
"We thought it was important that he was around our guys, that he watched us play and saw systems, the way Bob wants them to play," Feaster explained.
It appeared spending that time with the Flames during rehab paid off. Bouma didn't look out of place at all in the pre-season, racking up four goals and earning himself the nickname "Puck Magnet" from his teammates.
"They have [been calling me that] a little bit," he chuckled. "More so because I block a lot of shots I think.
"It's nice to come in and have some success offensively. It gives me more confidence on the ice and it gives me more confidence in the way I'm playing."
Now, he's in the spot he wanted to be in last year - on the Flames 23-man opening day roster with the opportunity to prove he is ready to be a full-time NHL player.
"I'm learning new things every day," the 23-year-old smiled. "Being out a year, you forget some things you've learned before. But I think it's coming and it's getting better and better every day. I feel better every day."