Brandon Dubinsky wasted little time getting settled in Columbus after a summer trade from the New York Rangers.
Within a matter of days, he had everything packed up from his place in New York and set the GPS for central Ohio eager to start the next chapter of his career. The informal player practices began at the OhioHealth Ice Haus not long after, and he started laying the foundation for a fresh start with the Blue Jackets.
Though the official start of his career in Columbus has been delayed a few months, it has done nothing to dilute Dubinsky’s anticipation for the NHL season.
“Now that it’s finally solved and we’re ready to go, it’s been really nice to get back here with the boys and skate and play,” Dubinsky told BlueJackets.com. “I’m excited in the same way I was this summer, but I’m a little more anxious now that we’ve gone through half a season and haven’t played yet.
“It’s a fresh start here. I’ve had an opportunity to spend some time here in Columbus (since the summer), and I really love the city and the people have been great.”
Because he was able to get into town early and develop relationships with his new teammates, taking part in his first informal skate today wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable. It was as if nothing had changed, Dubinsky said, other than the calendar turning a few more pages.
“It was jumping into a group of guys that I’m familiar with, and it wasn’t like I was jumping into guys I didn’t know or felt uncomfortable with,” Dubinsky said of today’s practice. “That was a good feeling, and I’m a lot happier that I made that decision to come to Columbus right after the trade and train here. It would’ve been a little stranger if I hadn’t, so that was cool.”
The intensity crept up a notch at this morning’s skate, where the group of Blue Jackets players participating had grown to 14. Vinny Prospal and Mark Letestu joined the group along with Dubinsky, and they were able to put together a high-tempo practice with a lot of game-like situations worked in.
There were 3-on-3 drills, “tight quarters” drills and many reps designed to get the competitive juices flowing once again.
“It was up to us to be mentally sharp and physically sharp,” Dubinsky said. “I think our guys did that, and the practice was good today. It was a good pace, and like I said, there’s going to be a lot of adrenaline and excitement that carries guys through the first little while here in a shortened season.
“After that, you’ll fall right into your rhythm and into gear. It’s going to be interesting but a lot of fun.”
And with training camp set to begin in just a few days, Dubinsky knows he will be a student of head coach Todd Richards and the coaching staff right from the get-go. He has a whole new system to learn, one that figures to be different from what he played under in New York.
Learning a new structure and putting it all together in a short period of time is just another of the hurdles faced in a compressed schedule, but Dubinsky said he’s not going to use it as an excuse for himself or any of the newcomers.
“There are a lot of new guys here, so I’m sure we’re going to do a lot of teaching (during training camp),” Dubinsky said. “I know I have a lot of learning to do and there are some other guys in the same position that I am. And hey, 48 games is a short season and it’s like jumping right into a playoff race almost.
“If you get behind the eight-ball early, it might be a tough hole to climb out of. You have to try to get some wins early…we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that’s us.”