When it comes to Steve Begin, one image in particular is burned inside Bob Hartley’s brain.

“I’ve seen him all over his career, whether in the Quebec league or even in Saint John where he was captain when the Flames farm team won the Calder Cup,” Hartley said Sunday morning. “I remember seeing the picture of him with the Calder Cup, and basically half of his face his all smashed up.”

In other words, Begin did not exactly look pretty.

“But that’s who Steve Begin is,” said Hartley, the Calgary Flames head coach. “He’s going to take a shot. He’s going to drive to the net. He’s going to forecheck. He applies himself.

“So every day, you can count on him, because he is a true soldier.”

The “true soldier” suited up for his 500th National Hockey League game Sunday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Not bad for a career grinder with stops in Calgary, Saint John, Montreal, Hamilton, Dallas, Boston, Nashville, Milwaukee and (once again) Calgary.

Not bad for a guy who sat out two years and underwent hip surgery before somehow earning NHL roster spot on a professional tryout with the same team that drafted him 40th overall in 1996.

“I remember playing my first game here when I was 19 against Detroit,” Begin said, soaking it all up Sunday morning in the depths of the Scotiabank Saddledome. “I remember I made the cover of the paper.