A small part of today's opening of Blue Jackets Training Camp presented by OhioHealth was old hat for Brandon Dubinsky.
He walked into his new locker room for the first time with the full group of his new teammates, put his equipment on piece-by-piece and marched down the hallway into the OhioHealth Ice Haus where he heard over 1,200 fans chanting "let's go Jackets" before the players even stepped foot on the ice.
Coming from the New York Rangers -- where practices are typically closed to the public -- hearing the ovation from hundreds of feet away was a surreal experience.
"It was awesome to see all the fans and get a first taste of the support we get here in Columbus," Dubinsky said. "It was pretty special and all the boys were excited about it.
I was sort of walking out (on the ice) and I heard them chanting and I was like, what’s going on out there? And then I walk out there and it was packed."
The familiarity started by lining up for his first official Blue Jackets drill on the left wing of Artem Anisimov, who came over with Dubinsky from the Rangers in the Rick Nash trade back in July. On the right side of their line was Derek Dorsett, one of the club's emerging young leaders and an honest player that empties the cupboard every night.
In their maiden voyage as a line, they looked like a group that had played together before. Dubinsky said that having a versatile player like Dorsett on the line helps develop trust right away, because the other players on the line don't have to worry about him on the right wing.
And though it's not realistic to think the three of them could mold into a perfectly-oiled machine right off the hop, Dubinsky hopes they can remain together in the coming days to build off what they started today.
"I played with (Anisimov) a lot over the last couple of years," Dubinsky said. "Artie’s a very dynamic player and he’s a hard worker. He’s got a great shot and he’s got great skill, so it’s always been nice to play with him. With Dorse on the other side, you’ve got a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve…you know exactly what you’re going to get from him every night.
"If the three of us can use our work ethic and the skill we have, I think we can be a good line."
Their individual performance aside, Dubinsky said he's aware that other factors -- namely the efforts of other players on the roster -- could dictate whether this initial grouping stays intact for a few days or a few weeks.
But that's not going to stop them from working hard to get to the level they want to reach.
"The three of us might not be together all season long, and that’s just the way it goes," Dubinsky said. "The coach is always trying to find combinations that work. It’s the way the game works these days; we’ll try to find some chemistry and build, but the big thing is making sure we go out there each and every game and playing hard for each other, and playing together no matter who’s on your line."
The sense of "togetherness" that Dubinsky spoke of has been prevalent since the summer, he said, when he made the move from New York to Columbus shortly after being traded. He spent a few weeks skating with some of his Blue Jackets teammates, getting to know them and familiarizing himself with the city.
When he walked through the doors this morning and saw the jersey hanging from his locker stall, it just felt right.
"It felt like I was coming to my team and not like I was coming to a new team," Dubinsky said. "You can tell the guys are ready. With a short training camp, it’s all about who’s ready the quickest. With only having four or five days here to get prepared, I feel like we’re in a good spot.
"For new guys it’s about learning the systems as quick as they can. We had a good meeting today and I’m sure we’re going to have meetings throughout the week. The good thing is the guys are committed to (learning), and we had a good practice today out on the ice. That’ll be the best way for us to prepare."