"I've had some crappy luck with injuries."
When asked about bouncing back from a tough season, Cody Bass doesn't need many words to sum it up. It has been a frustrating couple of years for a guy who wants so desperately to break into the NHL and be a regular contributor - even more so when his body just doesn't want to cooperate.
A shoulder injury caused him to miss all but 18 games last year for the Springfield Falcons (AHL), a team that Bass is a big part of as a veteran and assistant captain for Ryan Craig. He's one of the Falcons' emotional leaders both on and off the ice, and in the midst of a record-setting season for the franchise, having to sit out was even worse.
But when he returned to health, he returned with a fury. During the Calder Cup playoffs, Bass was one of the Falcons' biggest threats and scored some dramatic goals including an overtime winner in their first-round series.
It was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season, but as far as Bass is concerned, it's time for a fresh start beginning with training camp this week.
"Any time you can finish the season strong, it's a benefit to you," Bass said. "For me, missing four months and only playing 18 games last year and then jumping right into the playoffs...the team playing well was a big help for everyone.
"It was a positive, and even though it didn't finish how we would have hoped, it was still a positive season for the team and the whole organization in Springfield."
He knows the Blue Jackets will need help at forward, whether it's in three weeks or three months. For now, though, his focus is putting in the work to make sure he's earned himself that opportunity.
"It's no different from any other year for me," Bass told BlueJackets.com. "I'm going into my seventh year pro, so I've been through it all and had to face adversity my whole life and career. Looking at contracts, I don't know how many spots are open or could be open, but I'm here to give it my best and hopefully make a name for myself again.
"I still have a lot to prove. I've had some crappy luck with injuries. There's no security for me; every year, I have to compete and I have to prove myself. It's definitely challenging, you know? But I still have fire in me, I still have a spark in me, and this is what I want."
The "this" Bass refers to is a spot on the Blue Jackets' roster, with the organization that gave him a fresh start two years ago. He played 14 games with Columbus in 2011-12, showing the tenacious, hard-hitting game that made him a popular figure in both Ottawa and Binghamton (the Senators' AHL affiliate).
At 26 years old, Bass said feels as healthy and strong as he has in years. The energy is high, the anticipation for training camp is intense, and the desire to get back to the NHL is the coal that fuels the fire.
"Have I had a lot of injuries? Yes. Have I had some bad luck? Yes, but that's not going to change how I play or how I approach things," Bass said. "I play one way, one style and if that fits this organization in Columbus, great. This is where I want to be: in the NHL, not the American Hockey League.
"Columbus is a great place to be and this organization is only going up, and I want to be part of it."