by Garry McKay || AHL On The Beat Archive
For Ben Maxwell, his first season as a professional hockey player with the Hamilton Bulldogs is progressing well.
And the call-up to the Montreal Canadiens was a bonus.
What’s really pleasing to the six-foot, 177-pound center is the fact that it’s January already and he’s completely healthy.
A second-round pick of the Canadiens in the 2006 National Hockey League entry draft, Maxwell has had a run of bad luck with injuries the past two years with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League.
In the 2006-07 season, he played only 39 games because of surgery on his elbow relating to an old baseball injury. He thought he’d put that behind him when he went to the Habs’ training camp in 2007. There, he suffered a charley horse injury, which calcified.
"It was basically just a lump in my leg which wouldn’t go away and it limited my range of movement and ability to use my leg at all. I just had to sit around and not bike or work out or hardly walk," Maxwell explained. "I got probably 11 games in when I got back from camp and then I had to call it quits and I didn’t get back until mid-January."
In the end, he played only 31 regular-season games last season. That’s what makes his 31 games with the American Hockey League’s Bulldogs and seven with the Habs so far this year so pleasing. He has already played more games than he did last year and almost as many as the year before.
"There’s nothing I can do now but look forward and not worry about injuries that are in my past," he adds. "They’re not bothering me now. This year, all I want to do is play a good, full 80-game season and get back at it."
Head coach Don Lever says Maxwell has skill.
"He can play the point on the power play. He can kill penalties and he’s a wonderful skater. We just have to keep him healthy.
"His being called up is a bonus and he got some pretty good minutes. It’s always good to get a taste.
"The key is how you’re willing to work when you come back. You hope that it’s an incentive," he adds.
Maxwell was held pointless in his seven games with the Habs.
"It was a great experience and a lot of fun, and I think I can draw a lot from it and come back with more confidence and try and help out here," he added.
"It gives you an extra incentive and an idea of what you have to do to get back there."
Garry McKay covers the Hamilton Bulldogs for the Hamilton Spectator. This story originally ran on January 6, 2009.