It was a disappointing year because of injuries and the way I played most of the year. I wasn’t very happy with it. - Lance Bouma
CALGARY, AB -- It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
A season that started with such promise and oozed potential for Lance Bouma turned out to be anything but.
Following an impressive breakout season in 2014-15, where he posted career-highs in goals (16), assists (18), points (34), penalty minutes (54) and a plus-10 rating, it appeared the sky was the limit for the rugged 26-year-old Calgary Flames forward.
Unfortunately for Bouma, who was signed to a three-year extension in July after emerging as an offensive force, that sky had a big black cloud hovering over him for a better part of this season.
Limited to 44 games, and scoring only twice, Bouma suffered a broken fibula in only the third game of the season, sustained an upper body injury in January that led to him missing a handful of games, and then capped off his ominous campaign with an oblique injury.
“The word is disappointing,” Bouma said. “It was a disappointing year because of injuries and the way I played most of the year. I wasn’t very happy with it.
“It’s not the ideal start to the year, getting hurt in the third game of the season, but it was something where I felt good when I came back but nothing clicked for me.”
Despite what could be deemed as a squandered season, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Provost, AB native has not considered changing his abrasive, no-holds-barred style of play in a bid to end his injury nightmare.
“No,” proclaimed Bouma, who led all Flames forwards with 82 blocked shots last season. “That’s why I’m in this league. I’m not going to change the way that I play. It’s a tough way to play, but I’ve been lucky for most of my career to not have any injuries.”
Flames coach Bob Hartley feels for his rugged forward who leaves everything on the ice.
"He’s been hit with lots of bad luck,” Hartley said. “It’s tough to get into a rhythm when you play two or three games and you get injured and you play four of five and you get injured. He’s a good worker and he’s a heart-and-soul guy for us.”
“He’s a big part of our team,” added Flames captain Mark Giordano. “He’s one of those guys that a lot of his plays go unnoticed, but not in here. He blocks shots, penalty kills, does the little things right all the time.”
In spite of it all, Bouma chose to depart for the off-season with a positive outlook. Making excuses or dwelling on what might have been is just a waste of time as far as he’s concerned.
“I’m going to be better next year,” vowed Bouma, whose off-season will involve a couple more minor surgeries. “I’m looking forward to a good summer of training and to come back better and stronger.
“Obviously we’re not where we want to be right now. We want to be playing hockey still and it’s frustrating that were not. Everyone’s disappointed about it, but next year is a whole new year to start fresh and I’m looking forward to it because we have a nice group here. Next year is going to be a better year for sure.”