Logging the miles and paying his dues.
Scraping. Clawing. Fighting.
Every step of the way.
"It started in Kingston," said 26-year-old Alan Quine, listing off the various checkpoints that eventually landed him here with the Flames. "Then, I was off to Peterborough. Belleville was next.
"In the pros, it was Bridgeport, Stockton - my first tour, with the (ECHL's) Thunder - Bridgeport again, the Island, obviously, back over to Stockton (with the AHL's Heat), and now here in Calgary.
"So, yeah… it's been one helluva ride so far."
'So far,' indeed.
Quine, who signed a free-agent contract with the Flames last summer, is one of a handful of players making a case for themselves early in the pre-season.
"Comfort," he says, playing the biggest role in helping him find confidence after a calendar year that followed the path of his hopscotch career to this point.
"Coming in here last year, I was the new guy," Quine said. "Most of the team was over in China - the entire coaching and management staff was, too - and suddenly, I was a veteran guy in that locker-room.
"Trial by fire, right?
"I'd been traded a few times already in my career, so I was pretty used to being in new situations. But this was a bit different.
"Everyone was really welcoming and thoroughly enjoyed my first camp here, but this time around, it's nice that all eyes are on this side of the pond and you feel like you're more able to make an impression."
In a 6-4 win over the San Jose Sharks Wednesday, Quine scored his first of the exhibition slate, shaking off a defender at the bottom of the far circle before making a move and plunging it five-hole, showing great hands in tight.
He later assisted on linemate Dillon Dube's forehand beauty, and was named the game's first star after a shade under 14 minutes of play.
Video: Alan Quine shows great hands and plunges it five-hole
"Definitely a guy who's in the mix," offered head coach Bill Peters at Wednesday's post-game press conference.
"He's been good. You look at some of the scoring chances and he's in there, creating."
The 6-foot, 203-lb., left-shot pivot prides himself on playing a reliable, two-way game, but didn't waste the opportunity to prove himself offensively.
"Obviously, the NHL is the ultimate goal," Quine said. "When you have so many guys competing for so few jobs, you have to do everything possible to stand out. It starts with belief. I certainly have that in myself right now, and if I keep doing what I'm capable of at both ends of the rink, I think I put myself in a pretty good spot.
"There's pressure, for sure.
"But the pressure's on me, and me only."
Twice drafted, Quine spent the majority of the season with the Heat last year, but appeared in 13 games over two stints with the big club, recording five points (3G, 2A) in the process.
However, he says, the 41 games in Stockton proved most vital to his development, and the dream of becoming a full-time NHLer.
The Ottawa native led the Flames affiliate in scoring last year, despite playing in 24 fewer games than the next highest, the now-departed Tyler Graovac. His 19 goals and 52 points gave him the best year on a point-per-game basis than any other, at any level, ever in his career.
"You can't underestimate the value that Alan brought to us last year," said Heat head coach Cail MacLean. "He was our 'everyman.'
"He scored. Played special teams. He was really reliable defensively and played in all situations.
"He also took on a leadership role in a very young locker-room and thrived.
"There isn't much more that you can ask of a player - especially one who's looking to climb ladder and stick at the NHL level. These are, after all, his prime years."
Asked whether or not Quine can do it this fall, MacLean deferred.
"That's up to Alan," he laughed.
Naturally, the man himself agreed.
"I feel like it's crunch time," Quine said. "I want it. Bad. At the end of the day, it's an audition and you have to put your best foot forward every day.
"But you've got to find a way to block it out the noise, the pressure, and have fun with it."
In 97 NHL starts, Quine has nine goals and 27 points, along with one goal and five points in 10 post-season contests.
His lone playoff marker coming in double-overtime of Game 5 of the opening round in 2016, giving the Islanders a 3-2 series lead heading home.
Clearly, he knows a thing or two about this thing called pressure and delivering in key moments.
"This year, it's great to be a familiar face," Quine said. "I feel good about where my game's at.
"I'm so much more comfortable with both my teammates and my surroundings now, and I think that translates to my performance on the ice, too."