Paul Bittner, a second-round pick of the Blue Jackets in 2015, is coming off a tough year that saw him miss most of the season due to a hip injury. But the Minnesota-born power forward has been rehabbing all summer, and we caught up with him after a workout at Nationwide Arena to talk about his outlook on the upcoming season.
CBJ.com: After a tough season with your hip injury, how are you doing in terms of rehabbing and looking forward to next year?
Bittner: "Rehabbing is coming along really well. I'll be ready for camp and ready for (the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City). I'm getting mentally prepared for the season, to actually go the distance of the season this year so it's a good long process for me this summer. It was a bit of a setback last year, but it's going well right now."
CBJ.com: Are you at 100 percent now or are you getting there?
Bittner: "I'm getting there. I'll be 100 percent probably by the end of this week, or next week or so."
CBJ.com: What have you been doing this summer other than rehabbing?
Bittner: "A lot of running. Everybody's heard of Coach Tortorella's training camp, so I've been doing a lot of running since I've been here. Just a lot of core stability, to make sure everything's shipshape down there in the core area and my hip area, and it's going really well right now."
CBJ.com: Have you been doing anything non-hockey related?
Bittner: "I've been getting out and fishing when I was home for a month. I got out and I fished, and then I went cliff diving every now and then...not diving, but jumping, back home. It was a good summer away from the rink, too. A lot of golfing and a lot of hanging out with my buddies and stuff like that. It was a lot of fun."
CBJ.com: Once you do get back to 100 percent, how do you see yourself contributing to this organization in the upcoming season?
Bittner: "I'm not really sure, it's to be determined. I'm just looking towards coming to camp and getting in shape and ready to play."
CBJ.com: Are you excited to get that opportunity to play at full strength?
Bittner: "Absolutely, absolutely I'm excited. I got a little taste of it last year. Last year was more of a 'I'm so excited to be here, I just got drafted' and now it's more of a 'this is it, I've got to start to start taking it seriously' -- not like I haven't been taking it seriously -- just getting dialed in and understanding that this is a job. It's not juniors or high school hockey, this is the job. You're trying to take somebody's job out there. It's one thing when you have that in the back of your head when you line up next to a guy who's been in the NHL for 10, 12, 13 years, it's a whole different story. It's just one of those things where you've got to get mentally prepared and wrap your head around it."