R.J. Umberger felt he was a step slower and a stride behind some of the other players, especially those who had played in Europe during the lockout, and never made up the difference during the 2012-13 season.
The Blue Jackets left wing elected not to play competitively during the work stoppage and instead spent much of his time until the season resumed in January training with and helping as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater, Ohio State.
Umberger's drop in goals was a byproduct of his decision.
He scored eight times while playing all 48 games (.166 goals per game), well down from his average of .259 in 2011-12 when he had 20 goals in 77 games.
"It was way more difficult than I expected to jump into the season from the physical standpoint of just being on top of your game," he said. "Also, more from a mental standpoint it was hard to go from not doing anything and not knowing what was going on to all of a sudden going full swing into a half-season that quick."
If the Blue Jackets are going to make a serious run at making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in club history without having to depend solely on Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, then Umberger is among those who will need to make a bigger contribution.