John Negrin won't go so far to call it a lost season.
The 2009-10 campaign for the Calgary Flames defenceman prospect could be termed as disappointing and frustrating.
"I wouldn't go that far to say it was a lost season," Negrin said. "I played 45 games, and even though my knee was bothering me, I was able to have an impact in the games for the team and played a lot and in all situations.
"I can't be negative and be upset. I played half-a-season and thought I played well and was developing. It's something everybody has to deal with -- adversity -- and part of the game.
"It's given me more drive to have an impact this year."
Looking back, it wasn't the first pro season for which Negrin was hoping.
Sure, the five goals and 15 points in 45 outings for the AHL Abbotsford Heat are nothing to sneeze at. But he was hampered most of the time by a knee injury suffered when he was tripped while chasing down an iced puck, slamming his knee into the end boards.
When it was checked out, doctors believed the crack seen by the x-ray to be a deformity some people are born with, basically believing the two bones of the knee cap didn't fuse together.
Therefore, Negrin played through the pain.
But when the 21-year-old from West Vancouver broke his wrist in February, his knee was still bothering him while he was trying to skate and remain in shape. Doctors looked at it again and realized the knee cap was indeed broken.
"It's really nobody's fault," Negrin said. "Just a weird thing."
Unfortunately, the season was over for Negrin. In fact, he hadn't recovered enough to skate in the club's summer development camp.
"I felt good -- just didn't have my strength," Negrin said. "With the trainers, coaches and doctors, we talked and thought it would be best to go light and not push it. There's no sense going backwards. Right after that, I started to go on the ice, and each day I was building and building. Now, I feel strong. I haven't played organized hockey for a while -- since Februrary -- and didn't know what to expect, but I am positive."
He should be. The Flames are high on Negrin's potential.
A third-round draft choice -- 70th overall -- in the 2007 NFL Entry Draft, he is one of the underrated prospects in the Flames system.
The 6-foot-3, 200-lb. blue-liner has both the size, speed and skill to make him a tantalizing up-and-comer.
He'll likely be counted on this season in Abbotsford to have a bigger impact, along with Keith Seabrook, after the departure of a couple of veteran blueliners.
"I know we've got a young team (in Abbotsford)," Negrin said. "My goal now is to try and make the Calgary Flames and work my way back."
A full-time gig in Calgary may not be in the cards this season, but down the road, it'll be a very real possibility.
He's already come a long way from being the wide-eyed youngster who finished his junior season and, a few days later, was playing NHL games.
"I learned a lot from that," said Negrin, who went from junior to the American league team but was immediately sent to the Flames in Minnesota. "Going in, I was a lot younger and wasn't as mature, and as a hockey player, I have grown. Last year, in the first half of the season, I got a lot of ice time and learned about what it takes.
"Even when I was sitting out, I was watching a lot and studying the game. I feel better prepared than in the past."