Normally low key and soft-spoken, Steve Reinprecht didn't hide his enthusiasm.
With the NHL lockout appearing to be in its final days -- a ratification vote less than a week away -- the Calgary Flames forward can't wait to get things started again.
"I'm really excited for the NHL to start up, to put on the Flaming C and get back at it," said Reinprecht yesterday from his off-season home in Denver. "Everything's great, the shoulder hasn't felt better.
"It'll be exciting to put on the jersey and not have to wear any braces."
Reinprecht's only season thus far as a Flame wasn't exactly the way he envisioned it, making his desire even stronger.
A shoulder injury suffered in the pre-season deteriorated to the point he needed season-ending surgery in March 2004. Combined with a broken ankle, he was limited to 44 games, none of which he played pain-free, and collected seven goals and 22 assists.
With that shoulder injury in the past -- he excelled in France's top league by scoring 20 goals and adding 27 assists in 22 games while leading Mulhouse to the league crown during the work stoppage -- Reinprecht is raring to see the deal completed by the NHLPA's executive and place his vote.
"I have a pretty good idea of which way I'm gonna vote but it'll be good to go to the meeting," he said. "I think it'll be a really informative discussion. I have my own feelings on the subject, a lot of people do, but I don't have an opinion on it because I haven't seen all the details.
"I'm excited a deal has been reached in principle."
That's only one deal he'll need to sign before training camps open in September, assuming they open in the fall. Reinprecht is currently a restricted free agent but a new contract, he figures, won't be a tall order.
"I think they pretty much laid the groundwork for the next little while and it's a matter of getting formalities out of the way," he said.
However, there's a possible wrench thrown into the equation. Having turned 29 this spring, Reinprecht has only one year to wait before potentially becoming an unrestricted free agent, if the early reports on the new CBA are to believed.
Reinprecht said he hasn't thought about how that will impact his negotiation.
"The last while has been so uncertain with everything," he said. "I'm just looking forward to starting up in September and playing a full healthy year of hockey."
Besides, in the past year he's done plenty of extra-curricular activities.
While in France, he and his wife Sarah toured through Western Europe. Then, upon returning home, Reinprecht took a course to move one step closer to a communication arts degree from the University of Wisconsin.
"It's something I've been wanting to do for a little while," said Reinprecht, who took a class in rhetoric of religion. "The opportunity came when I could go take a class and one of the classes I wanted was available, so I went and made the best of my time and lived the school life for a few weeks.
"I passed it and feel a whole lot smarter."