Negrin fighting his way back

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

It didnít take long for John Negrin to go from spectator to power skater.

Despite a fractured kneecap that required surgery in March, the defenceman didnít enjoy sitting out Mondayís on-ice sessions at the Calgary Flames development camp.

So Tuesday, the 6-foot-3, 207-lb. prospect suited up and skated.

He didnít participate in every drill but was testing the frozen waters after hitting the ice about six times previously following surgery.

ďI took a safe approach and didnít really push it,Ē Negrin said. ďI think each day, as I do get more confident, Iíll push a little more and try and build up my speed.Ē

Thereís a lot of fight in the 21-year-old blueliner from West Vancouver, which may have something to do with his off-season training in mixed-martial arts.

ďIíve been doing it the last three summers,Ē Negrin said of the MMA workouts with a trainer friend of the family who runs a small business in B.C. ďA lot of it helps with the mental part of the game. I work a lot on that. And they focus on not only strength, but speed and flexibility. I think it works well with hockey, and I think itís helped me out a ton.Ē

It didnít help him much when it came to the gruelling fitness testing that took place Monday at the Saddledome.

Healing from a broken wrist in addition to the knee problem, Negrin had to skip most of the stations this summer.

ďI really just did abs,Ē said Negrin, aware the martial-arts training is focused on core strength. ďI did alright.Ē

Not that heís quick to drop the gloves on the ice ó Negrin scrapped just five times in four WHL seasons and didnít earn a major in his first year pro with the Abbotsford Heat last winter ó but his training could give him the edge if the need ever arises.

ďItís good,Ē Negrin said with a laugh. ď(The MMA instructor) knows I play hockey, so if I were to get in a fight on the ice, he translates some of that stuff.Ē

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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