CALGARY - Max Reinhart was arguably the best Calgary Flames hopeful during the prospects tournament held in Penticton, B.C.
Then, when the players reported to Calgary, the third-round draft choice from 2010 disappeared with no explanation.
Naturally, the red flares were firing up. Was the 19-year-old centre from the WHL’s Kootenay Ice hurt? How bad is it? Did he suffer a concussion?
Turns out it was a mysterious illness which flattened Reinhart, but he was back practising Thursday at the Saddledome and raring to get into a pre-season game.
Whether it was an allergic reaction or what, Reinhart didn’t know, but it was a stunning illness.
“When I got back from Penticton, it started out with a fat lip and no bruise. I didn’t think anything of it, but all of a sudden my joints started swelling up, I found it tough to walk and it was pretty painful,” he said.
“My wrist started swelling up and I was getting hives. I called an aunt who was close to where I’m staying and she got me to the hospital.
“It was scary because I’ve never had something like that before. It was a quick recovery.”
And the diagnosis.
“They can’t really find anything,” he said. “But I’m back to normal now, with no side-effects. They’re going to keep an eye on things.”
Rest assured, the Flames want to get a look at Reinhart on the ice, too, likely during one of the Battle of Alberta clashes, Saturday in Edmonton or Sunday in Calgary.
For a while, though, Reinhart wasn’t sure whether the ailment which beset him was going to completely derail his training camp experience.
“I thought that a little bit, but when something like that happens, you’re more concerned with your own health long-term,” he said after a session in which he skated on a line with Sven Baertschi and Niklas Hagman.
“I was able to take two days off, was skating on my own, and I feel good again.”
Well enough to play a game, which Flames head coach Brent Sutter expects to happen, noting how Reinhart earned such a chance with his play in Penticton.
“My goal this year was to play in one game, so I have tons of excitement heading into this weekend,” said Reinhart, who had a breakout junior season in 2010-11.
“I hope I get a look in some games. If I don’t, it’s still good because I hadn’t practised with any veteran players — today was my first day — and that’s a good experience and exciting.”
The Flames had high hopes for Reinhart during training camp after he netted 34 goals and 79 points in the regular season and then took his game to another level in the playoffs by collecting 15 goals and 27 points in 19 playoff games while the Ice marched to the WHL crown.
He was just as impressive during the Young Stars tournament, in large part because of his ability to create scoring chances at a high pace.
“When you get to this level, everyone plays at that pace, so we have to keep it up or even elevate,” he said. “The guys here will be smarter and stronger, therefore harder to play against.”