Throughout the week, 2013 draft pick John Hayden will be blogging for chicagoblackhawks.com about his experiences during his first Blackhawks Prospect Camp.
I came into town yesterday. I was born here, and my family moved right away, but I come back to Chicago almost every year. I still have family here – my grandfather lives in the city, so I’m familiar with the area. Even so, it’s exciting to be back for something like this: my first NHL prospect camp.
We had a meeting last night where everyone, coaches and players, introduced themselves to each other. It was good to get a feel for the staff and all of the other players before hitting the ice with them today. The older guys, who have been to this camp for several years now, did a really good job of welcoming the younger guys who were just drafted. They made us feel comfortable right away.
This morning was the physical testing, which means bikes, pull-ups, long jumps. It’s tough: I’ve been through it all before, but it doesn’t make it much easier. It’s always tough to do things like the VO2 and the Wingate test.
When we were given a tour of the Blackhawks’ locker room, we had something special waiting for us: the Stanley Cup. Everyone took a couple moments just to stare at it for a bit. You have to appreciate the amount of work and effort the actual Blackhawks put in to win it. It gave us all even more motivation to make it up to the show and actually compete for it.
Then we came over to Johnny’s IceHouse West and had a pretty good practice. The tempo was pretty high, so it’s good to get a feeling for what the week’s going to be like.
I know there are guys here who are older than me, and have more experience at these camps. I knew that the pace was going to be faster than it’s ever been before – I knew that going in – and I think I adjusted well for my first time out. Obviously, most of the players around me have played major junior hockey or Division I in college, or even higher, so it took a bit to catch up. But in general, I felt pretty good out there.
I’m rooming with Tyler Motte, who was a teammate of mine with the U.S. National Developmental team, and it’s nice to have someone I’m familiar with out here with me. We’ve talked a little bit about this week already; Tyler went to the Blackhawks’ combine in Chicago before the draft, so he had more of an idea what it would be like. It was nice to have that info from him.
We’re all going out to dinner tonight; I’m looking forward to meeting some more of the guys in the camp.