Mark Cundari can appreciate where he is at this very moment — sitting in the dressing room of a team in the National Hockey League. That alone, he knows, is somewhat of a triumph. “Any time you get called up to the NHL, no matter what the situation is, it’s a good thing, right?” Cundari, summoned Wednesday by the Calgary Flames, says while perched in his stall. “Putting it into perspective, maybe it wasn’t the smoothest year, but I’m where I want to be right now. I’m (with) Calgary. I’m doing the thing that I love to do — which is playing hockey — and I get to do it in the NHL. “Which is something a lot of guys can’t say.” Cundari himself didn’t know if he’d be saying it. It’s been that kind of winter for the squat defender, part of last spring’s return from St. Louis — along with Reto Berra and a first-ro und pick (Emile Poirier) — for Jay Bouwmeester. It started with his demotion, scant days into camp, to the American Hockey League. Then, mid-season, he saw his AHL rights transferred from the Abbotsford Heat to the Chicago Wolves. Cundari blames himself — at least for that express trip to the farm. “Ending the season the way I did with Calgary,” says Cundari, who made four appearances, recording three points, in April, “my expectations were high in terms of feeling that I should get a shot. I think, if anything, that (mindset) kind of hurt me because I went in there feeling that I deserve this, I deserve that — which is never an attitude you should go into anything with. “I definitely learned my lesson from that. Stay humble, stay grounded. Don’t worry about the politics of the game. Don’t worry if you get sent down, called up, whatever may happen.” Compounding those misguided feelings of entitlement? A fitness level that was immediately found lacking by skipper Bob Hartley. “We get mad at kids,” says Hartley. “We get to training camp — the kid’s first training camp (with the Flames) — and he’s out of shape. By Day 3, he’s sucking air.” Cundari acknowledges a certain shortfall in that department. “Maybe I wasn’t in the shape I should’ve been in,” says the Toronto native, listed at five foot nine, 195 pounds. “I’m a shorter, stockier guy, so running really isn’t my forte, especially long distance. I definitely felt that I was physically strong enough. But cardio is something I’m going to take (seriously) this off-season. I definitely learned my lesson from camp.” January, Cundari received another eye-opener. The Flames shipped his AHL rights to Chicago. That, too, will get a guy’s attention — and not in a career-buoying kind of way. “Usually when a player gets loaned out, they can’t expect much,” says Cundari, who turns 24 this month. “It’s kind of an awkward position — being loaned out to a team. My initial thoughts were, it would go against all odds . . . to be recalled — (that) I might be in the cards next year — if in the cards at all. It put a damper on my season.” With Abbotsford, Cundari had collected 10 points in 32 games.