Ben Smith was scoring the big goals during the Blackhawks first-round series against Vancouver two postseasons ago. It was a great debut, one that still earned mention when Smith walked across the runway at the teams convention last weekend.
It was exciting, but that was a year and a half ago, Smith said Monday before playing in Denis Savard Foundations Third Annual Golf Classic. But I want to bounce back to that level and even be better than that.
Now that hes healthy, Smith will attempt to do just that.
Smith was looking to build off that Vancouver series during the 2011-12 season; but the campaign began and ended with tough injuries. He suffered a concussion from a Brendan Smith hit at the end of training camp, and then had season-ending labrum and hernia surgery in March. Smith said he first felt pain in December and that it was nagging me over time. Crossing over (skating) was difficult.
The surgery is a pretty common one among hockey players. Still, going under the knife and dealing with the lengthy recovery time -- four months -- was daunting to Smith. But he talked with teammates who had undergone the surgery before, including forward Brendan Morrison.
That was comforting, Smith said. Its not career threatening, life threatening or anything like that. I was going to play hockey again.
Still, recovery wasnt fun. Smith spent 6-7 weeks in a hip brace and was laid up on his couch for most of that time. After that it was rehabilitation, strengthening the muscles for another 6-8 weeks.
Now Smith is close to 100 percent healthy again. Even if training camp does start on time, in September, Smith foresees being ready to go.
Its been a bumpy road since Smiths stellar postseason outing. That was nice, for certain. But Smith wants to repeat -- and build on that -- come this season.
Thats obviously a goal, to get back to that and even surpass it, Smith said. Right now, the biggest thing is being healthy physically and being healthy mentally, which will be an edge for me. Im excited to see what could happen moving forward.