Jason Jaffray was quick to shake his head in disbelief.
Then, the only thing he could really do was laugh.
After suffering a gruesome knee injury on the first day of Anaheim Ducks training camp one year ago, Jaffray had to hold his breath for a few seconds as he went crashing into the boards on the first on-ice session with the Winnipeg Jets.
This string of bad luck with injuries early in camp surely couldn’t stretch itself to two years in a row, could it?
“The first thing that goes through your mind is that this thing better not be dislocated or separated when I stand up,” said Jaffray, who is here in training camp trying to nail down a job as the 12th or 13th forward.
“Hopefully, I’ll never have to go through that situation again.”
Jaffray, a 30-year-old forward from Olds, Alta., was limited to 20 games (including playoffs) last season after colliding with Ducks prospect Matt Clark.
Rather than sit out the 2010-11 season, Jaffray worked hard to get back on his rehabilitation and joined the Manitoba Moose for the stretch drive.
The will and determination Jaffray showed in getting back on the ice is sure to leave him in good standing with some members in this organization, though he remains locked in a serious battle to try and earn a spot on the opening-day lineup.
“You know it seems a lot longer than a year,” said Jaffray, who has four goals and 10 points in 36 NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames and another 131 goals and 306 points in 378 American Hockey League contests.
“When you go through a six-month process of just rehab and physio and watching the game for six months, it seems like about two years by the time you get to play. It kind of tests your mental strength and makes you appreciate how much being healthy is important in the game.
“The toughest thing was that I didn’t even get to show Anaheim what I had to offer.”
Jaffray showed well in fitness testing and weighed in at 189 pounds, which is nearly 10 pounds lighter than what he weighed at Ducks camp last September.
Jets head coach Claude Noel has noticed a little extra spring in Jaffray’s step now that he’s had another year of training under his belt since the injury.
“Yeah, he looks like he’s picked up a bit of a step,” said Noel. “Jason is a good player that creates a lot down low. To me, he’s a very clever player who plays hard and is very dangerous around the net. He gives you a lot of good stuff.
“We’ll see where he fits in and where he ends up playing.”