BY BEN MEYER-ABBOTT
A season largely spent in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs bookended by serious injuries wasn't the type of year Ben Smith envisioned after he burst onto the scene for the Hawks in the 2011 playoffs.
But after a concussion on a shoulder-to-head hit in the preseason and season-ending surgeries for a hernia and cartilage tear in his hip in March, Smith has started to skate and is looking forward to being ready by training camp.
"The main challenge has been the patience part of it," Smith told the Sun-Times at the Hawks convention. "I'm about 18 weeks out from the surgery and that's about the time you start ramping it up and getting back to normal. But definitely the time aspect and having patience has been the toughest challenge."
Smith signed a two-year extension, which includes a two-way option in the first year, with the Hawks in June. He is eager to affirm the confidence the Hawks have shown in him.
"You always have to prove yourself and every opportunity you have to do that you have to take advantage of it," Smith said. "My main goal is to get to 100 percent and then from there earning whatever I can."