Ryan Murray joked that his week could only get better after his flight to Columbus from Regina, Saskatchewan was canceled on Monday afternoon.
And in more ways than one, it absolutely did.
The week began with a welcome dinner in the Founders Club at Nationwide Arena that, unfortunately, Murray wasn't able to take part in. His "welcome" to Columbus involved crashing at his Easton hotel room, eager to get the requisite rest for what was sure to be a demanding, eye-opening week in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets' first-round draft pick made the most out of his first exposure to the city and the organization, and gave fans a look at the well-rounded, two-way game that made him the sure-fire selection at No. 2 overall. Off the ice, he was a man about town: appearances on local radio shows, riding in the Blue Jackets caravan for the Red, White and Boom parade, and taking part in 10TV's Sunday night "Wall to Wall Sports" broadcast.
Director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright made it clear throughout the week that development camp isn't solely structured for hockey purposes; it's an all-encompassing lesson for the prospects about what it's going to take to make a living in the National Hockey League.
"It was a tough week, they really put us through the grinder," Murray said. "They had us do some tough workouts and some tough skates, but it was a lot of fun too, and I learned a lot."
One significant item to take away from development camp, Murray said, was the work ethic required to be a professional hockey player.
"That's a really big difference from junior, in how hard they come to work every single day and they really taught us that here this week," he said. "Everyone was going out there and trying to work hard. That was me, too.
"You're trying to get your legs back underneath you after not being on your skates for a while. You're getting used to the guys and getting used to the facility, too. It was good to come down and skate, get your legs back going."
Springfield Falcons head coach Brad Larsen, who organized the on-ice workouts throughout the week, felt that the group picked up on the work ethic aspect right away. One of themes presented by the player development staff was about choices -- the players have choices to make every single day of their lives, ranging from what they choose to eat, how hard they choose to train, and how they choose to represent themselves and their organization.
|Blue Jackets prospect Ryan Murray (center) waits for his turn during a development camp drill last week at the Ice Haus. |
Murray impressed Larsen and the coaches not only with his maturity and professional demeanor (given the whirlwind his life has been since being drafted in Pittsburgh), but with his ability to make playing defense look simpler than it actually is.
"Ryan just got better every day," Larsen said. "He's been pretty much what's advertised, from what I saw. He calms pucks down, he makes a good first pass, and when we did line rush stuff...he's a defensemen that makes the right decisions.
"I kind of laugh when they say he's the safe pick, but I don't know many teams that wouldn't want a safe defenseman that can play for the next 15 years. I'm very impressed with what he brought, and I see him only getting better as time goes on."
Murray admitted that he didn't expect development camp to be as demanding as it turned out out, but said it was a good gauge of where he's at and where he needs to go in order to attain his goals. One of those goals, he said, is to earn a spot on the Blue Jackets opening night roster.
While it's a lofty goal for any 18-year-old, Murray is prepared to put the work in to make it happen, and the past week spent in Columbus has provided the baseline for where to start.
"You learn what to expect every single day coming in," Murray said. "I didn't think that it would be this hard, but it's great that they worked us like that. You get perspective on everything, and can go home and think about your workouts and about what you're eating right, and getting your sleep every day.
"I want to make the team this year. I want to go back and work hard in the summer, and be as ready as possible to come in for camp."Follow @BlueJacketsNHL on Twitter, and use the hashtag #CBJLIKE Columbus Blue Jackets on Facebook