One focus was to stay healthy. Rogers was unscathed by injuries for the first 30 games of the season. But there was another goal that Rogers set for himself. That was to strike a balance and make a personal decision of what he needed to do to slip a National Hockey League jersey on permanently.
â€œI think Andy had an epiphany,â€ said Butters. â€œI think he realized if he wanted to succeed, and get to the next level, that he had to mature as a player on and off the ice. Andy was his own worse enemy, but he had a very good camp and this was his first year that heâ€™s been healthy.â€
Rogers made another decision.
â€œI told myself to relax and not to over-do things. I came to camp with an open mind and that everything would eventually fall in place. Iâ€™m getting ice time. Iâ€™m very grateful for that,â€ Rogers said. â€œI have more confidence as well.â€
Last season Rogers played in 30 games (1pts, 35 PIM) with the Admirals. He missed the last 34 games due to an upper-body injury (hip). Rogers also skated in four games with Tampaâ€™s East Coast Hockey affiliate, the Mississippi Sea Wolves (4 games, 1 point, 10 PIM). Staying healthy has been a hindrance for Rogers, who was drafted by Tampa in the first round, 30th overall of the 2004 NHL draft. Rogers has suffered injuries during his first two seasons of his professional career.
But another injury struck the prospect again. After a steady performance this season in Norfolk, Rogers suffered an upperâ€“body injury that has left him absent from the lineup since late November. Heâ€™s currently week-to-week.
â€œI think they just want to be cautious,â€ Rogers said in December. â€œIâ€™m just working on getting stronger and skating again.â€
Although Rogers has demonstrated a vast improvement from his first two professional seasons, Butters said there needs to be more consistency.
â€œAndyâ€™s skating, gap control and detail has improved. He needs to have more consistency, and avoid the bumps and busies. Staying healthy will be the real test,â€ Butters said.
Rogers is used to being tested, heâ€™s come out more refined in his approach to recent setbacks.
â€œYou canâ€™t worry about what you canâ€™t control,â€ Rogers said. â€œAll I can do is work to get stronger. I canâ€™t wait to get back.â€