Let's not mince words Lightning left wing Ryan Malone said when discussing last season.

"An awful year" he declared.

It is hard to argue that. Hurt most of the season Malone played just 24 games and scored just six goals the nadir of his five seasons with Tampa Bay that have been constantly marked by time lost to injury.

And that puts the gritty Malone — always considered a heart-and-soul kind of player — in the unfamiliar position during training camp of having to re-establish his bona fides to not only a new coaching staff but his teammates.

It is a story line coach Jon Cooper will follow closely as the team hits the ice for the first time today at the Tampa Bay Times Forum because as he said "If we're going to have success we're going to need Ryan Malone."

At 6 feet 4 219 pounds Malone 33 plays the kind of game every team covets: in front of the net physical and with a scoring touch that has produced six 20-goal seasons in a nine-season career.

He has three 20-goal seasons with Tampa Bay but never has played more than 70 games.

In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season he missed 24 of the 48 games because of a lower-body injury sustained during a pregame soccer kick-around and a separated left shoulder caused by an unnecessary hit by Flyers pest Zac Rinaldo.

"I don't need to elaborate on that" Malone said of the hit. "It all works itself out later."

But he does need to prove he can be counted on during the long haul of an 82-game season. Toward that end he included yoga in his summer workouts.

"It's more about functional movement" he said "not just the conventional 'get in the gym and see how much weight you can lift.' It's being balanced and feeling good strong and getting back to being able to move efficiently."