There were definitely more people than I thought there were going to be today. I think that definitely upped the intensity during the game and it was fun to switch it up with 5-on-5, 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 throughout the morning. I've never played in a game like that before. Everything was just as fast as in practice, but scrimmaging on the full ice sheet for the first time this week was something new. Everybody was going just as hard and just as fast.
Seeing my parents up in the crowd was pretty special. They've been able to see the whole process of me becoming a pro. I went to New Trier for my first two years of high school before I left to join the USNTDP and there was rumor that a few of my buddies from home drove up for the game but I'm not sure about that. With traffic from Wilmette, it's like an hour drive from the suburbs.
We were getting ready in the locker room before the game today and we saw Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat and Brandon Saad working out. It was pretty cool to see them out there watching the game and just to think to yourself, I'm really not that far away.
I think it just comes down to maturity when you're getting ready to share the ice with those guys. Coming up through the USNTDP program really helped me with that. I became a more mature and independent person and I think going off to college will help with that as well. For the most part, hockey players just have a special bond that they build with their teammates. I haven't met anybody who's been a selfish person or selfish player in the locker room.
Honestly, I didn't expect to make so many friends during Development Camp. I only knew like two or three of the guys coming in here and getting to talk to everyone this week was very fun. We went out to dinner the other night at a steakhouse and I sat at the table with a bunch of guys I didn't really know. But by the end of dinner we were pretty close and just learned a lot about each other's lives. There's a bunch of Swedish guys here, a couple of Finns. Not everyone speaks English too well but they are all really good guys. Once you break that language barrier, you kind of realize how similar everybody is.
I'm flying back to Boston tonight and I'll be out there until World Junior camp starts in a few weeks. It's going to be pretty back and forth with summer classes at Boston University. Thinking ahead to next year, I'm just excited to have a level of comfort with everyone coming into Development Camp a year from now. Especially with the younger guys, I want be the mentor that so many of the older players were for me this week. I just remember how new everything was, and next year, I just want to let the younger guys know what to expect each day and be a leader.