It was incredibly tough. Especially watching Anaheim, I thought I could have brought an element of speed and get in on the forecheck against that team. - Paul Byron
CALGARY, AB -- All in all, the 2014-15 season was going well for Calgary Flames forward Paul Byron.
While the offensive numbers weren't where he would have liked them -- he ended up with six goals and 19 points in 57 outings -- the 26-year-old felt comfortable with his overall game and thought the production would come.
He was getting chances, creating opportunities for his linemates, and felt that the Flames' system brought out his strengths.
Then, in mid-February, everything went sideways.
Already nursing a tight groin that would eventually lead to a sports hernia, Byron was hit from behind during the Flames clash with the Boston Bruins on Feb. 16, jamming his wrist and breaking his toe.
That was basically the end of the Ottawa native's season as he was held out of all but one game from that point. He had hoped he would be able to make enough progress to be cleared to play but the combination of the injuries pulled the plug on his year.
Realizing he wouldn't be able to play in the postseason, Byron underwent surgery for the sports hernia a few weeks ago and will have his wrist scoped in the near future to determine if it needs to be repaired.
"I couldn’t really walk so it was kind of a mixture of all three injuries hit me at one time," he said.
"To see your season end that way, especially when you’re kind of day-to-day for two and a half months, it was tough. I’m going to regroup in the summer and come back even better next year."
All injuries breed frustration but that aggravation was amplified ten-fold in the playoffs, being stuck on the sidelines while his teammates battled through the grind of the postseason.
"It was incredibly tough," he sighed. "Especially watching Anaheim, I thought I could have brought an element of speed and get in on the forecheck against that team. I really could have countered some of their size. I can’t tell you how bad it was watching your team, especially the last game, losing there. The guys fought so hard the last few months and I’m incredibly proud of the effort we put in every day, as a team.
"I wish I could have been out there with them."
Reflecting on his team's 97-point season and playoff run, Byron wasn't surprised at the Flames success over the past year.
He heard the predictions at the start of the campaign, with plenty of media members saying the team would be in the running for a top draft lottery pick rather than a playoff spot, but he was certain the team was much better than most were giving them credit for.
"Our goal from day one in training camp, inside that locker room, was to be a playoff team. At the end of last year, you could kind of feel that momentum building, especially after the Olympic break. We were beating some good teams and playing great hockey. I think if we would have played like that the whole way, we might have been in the playoff picture even last year. Everybody that was a part of that last year kind of knew we could do it, we could beat those teams.
"From day one, we had that belief in ourselves and played the same way we finished last year. I’m incredibly proud to be a Calgary Flame."
Byron, who is one of the Flames pending restricted free agents, wants to help the team take another step next year. He is confident he and his agent can come to terms with the organization.
"I just got out of my meeting with Brad and obviously it’s up to him and my agent to try and figure out a deal. But I want to be back here, I want to be a Calgary Flame, and I think they feel the same way about me."