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Blues happy Rattie picked hockey instead of baseball

Monday, 07.29.2013 / 10:10 AM / Prospects

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Before tearing up the Western Hockey League with 347 points in four seasons -- including 231 over the past two -- St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie had an incredibly arduous decision to make before becoming a Portland Winterhawk.

The 32nd pick in the 2011 NHL Draft turned a simple phone call into a blossoming career in the Western Hockey League.

In 2012-13, he had 110 points, a season that culminated with a 36-point postseason that led the Winterhawks to the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions. He also led the team with six goals and 12 points in five games at the Memorial Cup.

Life was good for Rattie, but looking back, he almost never gave the Winterhawks a chance.

"It was exciting. I got drafted [by Portland] as a 15-year-old," Rattie said. "The way the organization was, I didn't want to go. It was really low, but [Portland coach] Mike Johnston called me and I'm real glad I got to go there. I'm really lucky I got to go there.

"I wouldn't be standing here today if I didn't go to Portland. It's one of my favorite places on Earth now."

A hockey star growing up in Calgary, Rattie also was an ascending baseball player. A Toronto Blue Jays fan at heart -- with the St. Louis Cardinals a close second -- Rattie had a puck in one hand and a baseball in the other.

Ultimately, the hockey stick and skate blades won out over the baseball bat and cleats.

"I had to pick between baseball and hockey at the age of 15," Rattie said. "Lucky for me I picked hockey because I was better at the time."

Rattie made a name for himself with Portland, and he only can hope his accomplishments in the WHL can serve as the foundation for a promising career in the NHL.

Now the focus turns to becoming a pro after Rattie signed his three-year, entry-level contract in May.

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The goal for Rattie, who is working out with fellow Blues prospects for the third straight summer, is to increase his body's physical mass -- he's listed at 6-foot and 178 pounds, an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier than when the Blues drafted him.

"Try and get bigger," Rattie said of his summer goal. "I want to put on some weight. I've been working out for a couple weeks now. I've already put on 5  pounds, so I'm on the right track. Maybe another 5  pounds before training camp. Everyone that comes to training camp is pushing for a roster spot. I'm going to come in here, work my hardest, do whatever they need me to do and go from there.

"[The Blues] tell me to get bigger, but I don't want to get too big. I don't want to lose my shiftiness, I don't want to lose my speed, because if I lose that, I'm just going to get killed up here. Put 5 more pounds on, not anything more. You've got to stay quick in this game; you've got to stay fast. Smaller guys can play in this game nowadays. As long as you're shifty and quick, I think you'll be fine."

Rattie will try to make an impression at Blues training camp in September. If he doesn't make the NHL team, he'll head to the Chicago Wolves, the club's American Hockey League affiliate. But it won't be too long until Rattie will be a key piece of the Blues moving forward.

"He's going to get a real good look at training camp," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "He's going to get a look with some of our better players. It's a big step from junior hockey to the NHL. He's a talented goal-scorer. He's scored at every level. He'll get a look and if he's ready to play … that would be the same with [Dmitrij] Jaskin. But if they have to end up in Chicago, [Wolves assistant GM] Kevin McDonald and [GM] Wendell Young have done an outstanding job of supplementing that roster.

"They're going to be playing with very good players, and whether they're here or not, I'm not that concerned about. But the reality is we need one of those two players -- and hopefully both of them -- but we need one of those two players to take a step or they're going to be a contributing factor on our team in the near future."

It's rare to see a player make the jump from the WHL to the NHL, but Rattie is determined to defy the odds. However, he does have a realistic view.

"The NHL is a completely different game," Rattie said. "I've had one training camp under my belt and I kind of have a taste, but I'm really looking forward to coming here in September and proving that my scoring touch can translate to the NHL game.

"Realistically, I think it's going to be a learning curve for me and I understand that. Right from Day One, I'm going to try and make the St. Louis Blues, and if I don't, I'm completely fine with going to Chicago. It's going to be a good organization down there, good coaches. A learning curve, but the ultimate goal is to be a St. Louis Blue."

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery