It’s definitely nice to get out of that yellow jersey. I definitely had enough of that. It’s exciting. It’s another step. I’m just happy to be back fully with the team. - Sam Bennett
CALGARY, AB -- It’s not easy being green, but it’s a step up from sporting yellow.
Sam Bennett, who exchanged his yellow non-contact jersey for a green one Saturday morning, an indication that the Calgary Flames' first round pick (No. 4) in the 2014 NHL Draft is nearing the end of a lengthy rehabilitation following shoulder surgery in October.
“It’s definitely nice to get out of that yellow jersey. I definitely had enough of that,” Bennett said. “It’s exciting. It’s another step. I’m just happy to be back fully with the team.”
Exactly four months from the day he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, Bennett was on the ice bumping with teammates and skating alongside projected scratches David Wolf and Brandon Bollig as the Flames prepped for the Vancouver Canucks in a pivotal Pacific Division match-up.
While most had their focus on Vancouver, Bennett had his on showing patience.
But having not played a meaningful game since April Fools Day, a 2-1 overtime loss to the Peterborogh Petes that ended the season of Bennett’s Kingston Frontenacs in the first round of the OHL playoffs, patience has been hard to display.
“After the fourth month it gets a little annoying,” said Bennett, who also skated on Calgary’s side at the YoungStars Classic in Penticton and in three preseason NHL games.
“Honestly, not that patient. I’m dying to get my first game and I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. I’m still waiting to hear, but whenever that may be I’m still counting down the days.
It’s more a matter of when, not if, for Bennett.
Bennett is eligible for a two-week conditioning stint in the American Hockey League with the Adirondack Flames. He could also stay in Calgary and is eligible to play nine games before the first year of his three-year entry-level contract kicks in.
He could spend the remainder of the season with the FLames, or he could go straight to Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League, too.
That set of decisions will come down to general manager Brad Treliving.
For now, though, Bennett under coach Bob Hartley’s watch.
“He’s full go. Full contact,” Hartley said. “He’s happy. He’s a happy customer, I can tell you that.
“We’re going to practice him and after this as an organization we’re going to make a decision but that decision will not come from me. It’s got to come from Brad.”
It’s been a long wait, but the Holland Landing, ON native is getting excited that a decision on his future is looming.
“Wherever I play I’m ready to go,” he said.
“I don’t feel hesitant at all out there. I guess it’s just a matter of getting my confidence back up again.
“Watching the games, it can get pretty tough. I am. I’m dying to play a game again.”