CALGARY, AB -- For Steve Bégin, a year and half of hard work and dedication have resulted in a homecoming of sorts.
"I was drafted by the Flames," he said after signing a one-year, two-way deal with the club. "I played a few years here. It's a great feeling to put on this jersey.
"When I have something in my mind, I want to make sure I reach my goal and today I did. It's fun and I'm very, very excited."
Bégin, who was the Flames second round pick in the 1996 NHL Draft, missed the entire 2011-12 season recovering from hip surgery but when head coach Bob Hartley found out he was healthy and looking to compete for a spot on an NHL roster last fall, he promptly invited him to the Flames training camp.
Coming into a condensed training camp with no guarantee of picking up a contract was a daunting task for the veteran but he took the one-day-at-a-time approach and focused on giving 100 percent every day.
"It's been hard. It's been a tough week but it's been fun," he acknowledged. "You never know what to expect. Of course, they don't tell you much. They just put you out there and watch you. I knew that coming; it would be tough, it would short and without playing any exhibition games against other teams, it would be even tougher. I knew I had to lay everything out there. I think that's what I did. That's what they saw and that's why I'm here today."
Hartley has been very vocal about his desire for his to be in excellent shape. Conditioning is very important to the bench boss and Bégin spent the work stoppage in the gym to ensure he was ready for the rigors of a Hartley-led training camp.
"I think I came in great shape. I worked so hard the last year. Sometimes I was twice a day in the gym. I skated five to six times a week. I wanted to be ready. I didn't want to miss my chance. I knew it would the last call for me, the last chance I would get."
Bégin played 123 games with the Flames at the beginning of his professional career and he knows that if wants to remain in the lineup, he has to bring the energy and grit he did back then.
"They want to see Steve Bégin, like I've been playing my whole life. That's why they drafted me in '96. That's why I played a few years in this league. That's what they want to see.
"They want to see a gritty guy, someone that never says die. Goes hard. Gives it everything he has on the ice. I'm a grinder. I'm a guy that's going to be on the PK. I want to win and that's why I'm here."
As Bégin expressed his gratitude for the opportunity, his excitement was almost palatable and noted it felt like he had just finished his first NHL training camp.
"It's an amazing feeling. I feel like I'm a rookie. It's fun. It's a great feeling."