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Bennett turns shoulder surgery into learning experience

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

Just being around the guys and seeing how they act, it’s really good for me. I think being here and training just makes me want to play that much more. I think it ramps up my rehab.Sam Bennett

CALGARY, AB -- The process, Sam Bennett will admit, has been frustrating at times.

But he’ll also admit it’s been a great investment, too.

Bennett, who has been around the Calgary Flames organization since undergoing shoulder surgery in mid-September, has made the most of a tough situation.

“It’s been huge just being around the guys,” Bennett said. “I go into all the meetings, going to all the games, it’s huge for my development. Just being around the guys and seeing how they act, it’s really good for me. I think being here and training just makes me want to play that much more. I think it ramps up my rehab.”

After battling the injury through much of last season, the YoungStars Classic in Penticton and main Flames camp, Bennett, the fourth overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, underwent surgery to anchor the labrum back to the bone in his shoulder.

While it’s forced him to the sidelines for 4-to-6 months, it’s given the 18-year-old new perspective.

Rehabbing alongside other injured Flames like Matt Stajan, Joe Colborne, Mason Raymond and Mikael Backlund has Bennett seizing the opportunity to dig into life as a pro.

“It definitely is a lot more than maybe I knew before,” he said. “I’m a pretty hard working guy, but coming here and seeing the amount of work that not only I have to put in but the guys that are playing put in, it’s pretty impressive and you definitely appreciate more when you’re here.”

It’s an added benefit not a lot of first year players get.

It’s one that Stajan feels Bennett has made the most of.

“Unfortunately I’ve been injured but one of the positives is the four of us who are veterans who have got to spend a lot of time with Sam,” Stajan said. “It’s a grind when you’re hurt. You’re rehabbing, you’re staying fit, you’re putting a lot of time in and he’s working really hard. We get to talk to him about a lot of things. He’s learning every day. That’ll help him once he does start playing with what to expect because he’s seeing it all first-hand.

“I think he’s going to have a long and exciting career for this franchise. He’s a great kid and he’s been a lot of fun to be around.”

It’s something Flames coach Bob Hartley hoped Bennett would channel.

“There’s a big positive to the negative of his surgery,” Hartley said. “He’s in rehab and he’s in the gym every day, but at the same time, he sees our recipe, he’s sees how we do things. Such a great leadership group that we have, this kid is learning every day.”

Bennett’s enthusiasm has been clear since his arrival to Calgary.

Originally, he’d channeled it into cracking the Flames roster just three months removed from draft day.

Now, he’s using the same energy to try to get back on the ice as quickly as he can.

“I’m really happy with the progress so far,” Bennett said. “I’ve got about a solid month now, of solid rehab. Starting to do some strength work now and really I haven’t had any issues so, it’s all positive right now.

“The goal is to be skating come the New Year. That’s the goal and then from there, going to keep progressing. Then if I have no issues skating, we’re going to keep ramping it up.

“Obviously that’s my goal, to be playing by the end of this [season]. Wherever that may be, I’m not sure of at this moment, but I definitely think that’s a possibility.”

If he’d have his way, though, Bennett would already be playing.

“This kid is going to be a special one,” Hartley said. “If we would listen to him, if he were skating with us, he’d be playing right now. He’s chomping at the bit, at a point where he’s almost annoying.

“I’ve sat quite a few times with him, telling him watch this guy and watch what were doing. Right now he’s getting free lessons. He has a chance to look around and soak in a little bit like Michael Ferland did last year, like Patrick Seiloff did the same thing.

“It’s unfortunate because I’d rather see them play, but right now we’re trying to build something positive to where we can and to be around our guys it’s certainly a very good investment.”

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