It seems not long ago that Matt Calvert's breakout NHL season was derailed by a broken finger.
He can joke about the injury now, but at the time, it was gutting for Calvert - who was playing great hockey and doing things his way: with 100 percent effort on every single shift. The Blue Jackets were in the middle of their end-of-season West Coast swing and playing a big game at STAPLES Center on Apr. 18 in Los Angeles, but Calvert took a hard shot from Kings defenseman Slava Voynov off the hand and did not return to the game.
Calvert was slated to be out 2-4 weeks and missed the remaining three games of the regular season, and given how well he was playing and the impact his line was making, it was especially difficult.
Had the Blue Jackets qualified for the playoffs, there was a chance Calvert could return sometime during the first round but it never got that far.
Thankfully for Calvert, the hard part is behind him and the finger is 100 percent healthy, allowing him to get into the swing of summer workouts without issue and begin preparations for the 2013-14 season.
“The finger’s good, I’ve been back on the ice and been able to golf too, so just getting that basic strength back that you lose in an injury (is important)," Calvert told BlueJackets.com. "I feel good...it’s right back to what it was before.
"Like with any injury, it takes a couple months to get the full strength back and just keep on training.”
The last two months haven't been all bad news, though. Calvert signed a two-year contract extension with the Blue Jackets just prior to the end of the season as the pieces started to fall into place for Columbus. John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen started checking items off their list, including new deals for Calvert, Cam Atkinson, Mark Letestu and most recently, Artem Anisimov.
But even with a new contract and a clear-cut opportunity to be a big part of the Blue Jackets' future, Calvert knows there's more work to be done. Bottom line: the team missed the Stanley Cup playoffs - one of their goals - and everyone needs to take a step forward this coming season to make it happen.
“Everyone says that you’re relaxed (with the contract negotiations finished) and that’s a good thing for me coming to camp," Calvert said. "You’re trying to fit in with the team rather than trying to figure out what city you’re going to land in. It’s going to be an exciting year, and just all you can do is train hard and make yourself as prepared as possible.”