Howden no stranger to adversity

Canada forward Quinton Howden (left) and defenceman Scott Harrington celebrate a goal against...

Canada forward Quinton Howden (left) and defenceman Scott Harrington celebrate a goal against Denmark during a World Junior Hockey Championship match at Rexall Place in Edmonton Alta., Dec. 28, 2011. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:55 PM ET

CALGARY - Quinton Howden is a two-time member of Canada's world junior squad and could be collecting an NHL paycheque as soon as next season.

Pretty impressive stuff, especially when you consider the frightening message delivered by doctors after he snapped his femur -- the largest bone in the human body -- in a biking mishap as a six-year-old.

"Basically, that sports were not an option. They kind of ruled out sports right away and they were really hesitant about walking," Howden said. "I can't really imagine what my parents went through when they heard it, but look at me now."

If you haven't seen him yet, you can catch a glimpse of Howden in Tuesday's nationally-televised world junior semifinal.

Thanks to almost immediate shock, the 19-year-old forward from Oak Bank, Man., doesn't remember a lot about the incident as a youngster, other than that "the bike started to twist up and my leg didn't and it snapped my femur."

For about two months, he was in a cast up to his chest and needed a wheelchair to get around. That was followed by intense physical therapy.

The doctors were wrong about his athletic outlook, though.

"Once he was healthy and he was doing everything else, the next thing was to take him skating and see how he could do," recalled Howden's father, Sheldon, who'll be cheering him on in Tuesday's tilt at the Saddledome. "He did really well. For the first bit, he was getting his feet going again, but he just has a natural ability with his skating and he did right from Day 1.

"It wasn't very long -- it was within the first couple of months of when he first started skating -- that you could see he was going to skate just fine."

It's amazing how far those skates have carried him.

A regular with the Western Hockey League's Moose Jaw Warriors, Howden is one of four returnees from last year's world junior squad and has an 'A' stitched on his uniform at this tournament.

And soon, he'll be taking his skills to the Sunshine State. Known as an exceptional skater for someone with such broad shoulders, the 6-foot-2 winger was selected by the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

"I grew up watching hockey and grew up skating, just like any other kid from Canada," Howden said. "It's something I always wanted as a kid was to be able to play hockey professionally. Things have worked out so far."

Team Canada has answered plenty of questions about adversity over the past few days.

About the adversity of overcoming a stunning collapse in last year's gold-medal game against Russia.

About the adversity of fending off a late offensive surge from the Americans on New Year's Eve.

Suddenly, about the possible adversity created by a flu bug that has already bitten forward Michael Bournival and prevented head coach Don Hay and assistant Scott Walker from attending Monday's practice at WinSport Athletic & Ice Complex.

Howden knows a different sort of adversity, and there's no doubt it made him stronger.

"That was a big step in my life, something that people don't really want to go through," he said of the ordeal. "The adversity that I've overcome, with what my parents were telling me (about) what happened and what doctors were saying and stuff like that, it's something I'm very honoured to have been able to overcome and very thankful every day.

"It's basically just determination, me pushing because I wanted to do things like this. I achieved some of my goals."

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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