Basically, there were several factors that would ultimately come together on the way to his most productive eight-game stretch in two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers.
"We had some injuries there in the end and combined with that extra opportunity, along with the confidence and experience I had, everything began clicking for me," van Riemsdyk told NHL.com.
An acting career for JVR?
In between workouts this summer, Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk tried his hand at acting.
In early August, van Riemsdyk, Ian Laperriere, Matt Carle and Scott Hartnell traveled to Los Angeles at the request of movie producer Judd Apatow for a possible appearance in the December 2012 release of "This Is Forty."
The experience of being on set with stars such as Megan Fox, Wyatt Russell and Leslie Mann was something van Riemsdyk won't soon forget.
"At first we were all kind of wondering what was going to happen," van Riemsdyk told NHL.com. "Maybe we weren't completely sold, but obviously it was going to be a cool experience.
"We decided it was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to kind of go behind-the-scenes of a movie like this and see what goes on and potentially be in the movie, too, so we decided it would be a pretty cool experience and we all had a good time."
Van Riemsdyk said Apatow, who is friends with Laperriere, was extremely gracious and accommodating to each of them during their 14-hour day on the set.
"He made us feel really comfortable and I think we just had a great time with it," van Riemsdyk said. "We enjoyed the experience."
Apatow has previously produced box office hits "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad."
"Meeting Megan Fox was probably the highlight of the whole day, but we had lines that we kind of had to wing off the top of our head," van Riemsdyk said. "I'm not exactly sure what I should be telling about the whole thing, but we had to dance too. It'll be funny to see what they wind up using, if they use anything, and how it all turns out. It was pretty fun time."
Laperriere told the Flyers web site, "JVR and [Hartnell] had some moves. Matty Carle is a little more my type; a stiffer dancer just like me. But we were all sportsmen and had a lot of fun."
--Mike G. Morreale
General manager Paul Holmgren proved that point Tuesday when he re-signed "JVR" to a six-year contract. According to a report from Scott Burnside of ESPN.com, the deal is worth $25.5 million, so it would carry a $4.25 million cap hit each season. Van Riemsdyk was scheduled to become a restricted free agent following the 2011-12 campaign.
"Excited to sign a six-year extension with the @NHLFlyers, love playing in Philly," van Riemsdyk tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
It was during the Stanley Cup Playoffs when van Riemsdyk was proving to everyone why Holmgren elected to select him second overall at the 2007 Entry Draft.
Beginning with Game 2 of an eventual seven-game series against the Buffalo Sabres on April 16 and ending with Game 2 of a four-game series sweep by the Boston Bruins on May 2, the kid from Middletown, N.J., produced 7 goals in eight games. The highlight was his two-goal performance against the Bruins in an eventual 3-2 overtime loss in Game 2 when he finished one short of becoming the first Flyers player to notch a playoff hat trick since Keith Primeau did it seven years ago to the day.
Said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette following the loss to Boston: "I thought it was the most dominating performance that I have seen from a player."
"During the year, I was more in a secondary role, kind of not as much power-play time but I was able to get out there and the more you play as an offensive player, the more you get into the flow of the game and just play instead of thinking as much," van Riemsdyk said. "That just helped take my game and raise my level a little bit. That's obviously something I'll have to build on now and do over the course of a full 82-game season."
Holmgren is certainly counting on it.
"Seeing those big guys get traded was a surprise because you really don't expect to see something like that happen," van Riemsdyk said. "At the same time, in the salary cap world we live in, there are hard decisions that need to be made and when a team doesn't accomplish the ultimate goal of winning, changes are probably expected. Although these two players probably weren't expected to go, that happens … it's part of the business."
While it may take some time for the team to build a new identity minus Richards and Carter, van Riemsdyk is cautiously optimistic the transition will be a good one.
"We still have some great players and we also brought in some great players," he said. "We have a good leadership core in the locker room but, saying that, there was a little bit of a turnover from last year's team to this year's. So you never know as far as finding that chemistry on the ice and how long it will take."
Van Riemsdyk feels adding "one of the best goalies in the game" in Ilya Bryzgalov will provide a stabilizing presence. He's also looking forward to the opportunity of possibly lining up with veteran Jaromir Jagr, a player he admired growing up watching the game.
"I followed him more in his Ranger years because I was a little younger during the early stages of his career," van Riemsdyk said. "He did some special things, is really talented and can change a game all by himself so it's exciting to have a guy like that on your team."
In Jagr's final season with the New York Rangers in 2007-08, van Riemsdyk was a freshman at the University of New Hampshire.
"He was a guy you kind of grew up looking up to and watching and kind of idolized a little bit," he continued. "To have him in the same locker room will be pretty cool."
After finishing the 2010-11 regular season with career highs in points (40), goals (21), and plus/minus rating (plus-15), van Riemsdyk appears primed for even better times ahead. He is considered to be among the new breed of power forwards in the League.
"That's always been my game, having that combination of speed and strength … it's obviously something I've always prided myself on as being that bigger guy who can skate and get around the ice really well," van Riemsdyk said. "I've continued to work on that part of my game all summer; getting faster and stronger so that I can help add more dimensions to my game."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale