DENVER, CO -- He admits he was a bit naive.
Coming into the 2012-13 NHL season, Sven Baertschi assumed he would pick right up where he left off last year when he was summoned by the Flames on an emergency recall. With three goals in five games, the Swiss forward looked NHL-ready at the tender age of 19 and the confidence from that cup of coffee in the league was with him when he entered training camp in January. He set the bar high for himself and felt he could carry that momentum over into the current
Everybody struggles at one point in his life. The question is what do you make out of it. - Sven Baertschi
Expectations from outside were high as well. Fans had already integrated the term Svensational into their vernaculars before the season even had begun and the media dubbed him a potential 2013 Calder candidate.
It appeared that Baertschi's rookie season could be one for the ages so when he struggled early on in the year, it came as a bit of a shock to the system for the Flames 2011 first round draft pick.
"Maybe I felt too comfortable before," he conceded. "Maybe it was because I got the message early from the team that I would be here, maybe it was too easy. I didn't understand how hard you have to work for it.
"I'm a young guy, it's my first season and it's something I have to learn. But I'm really happy I've got great coaches around me and great teammates. They help me with everything."
Now, fresh off an eight-point, 11-game stint with the Abbotsford Heat, Baertschi feels more prepared for the rigors of being a regular in the NHL. He has a grasp on what is needed mentally and physically to play the game at a high level and he understands what he needs to improve upon.
"My compete level, it has to go up. Especially when you skate against guys are much heavier than you and much stronger than you. I've got my ways to do it and I'll try to win as many puck battles as I can. I think that (success) has to do with my competitiveness out there. I've got to make sure I'm not going to accept losing a puck battle."
His first game back with the Flames comes in Colorado, the site of his first and only point in the 2012-13 campaign, and he's thrilled he has the chance to show the coaching staff and the organization what he has learned this year.
"I think the most I learned was about myself. The last few years have been so great with everything. Nothing really went wrong expect for losing in the (WHL) finals. Now I'm in a different spot. Things didn't go that well.
"Everybody struggles at one point in his life. The question is what do you make out of it."