Last year did not end on a positive note for Blue Jackets defenseman John Moore, and it has him chomping at the bit for training camp to begin in September.
The 21-year-old blue liner missed the final week of the season with an ankle injury suffered in a game against the Florida Panthers, and it grated on Moore that he couldn't be on the ice with his teammates as the Blue Jackets played well down the stretch. As the calendar turned to the offseason, Moore first thought not about the golf course or the nearest tropical getaway, but the quickest available avenue to get himself back to 100 percent health.
Rehabbing his ankle was tops on the priority list, he said, because he couldn't wait to get back in the gym and train for the 2012-13 campaign.
"It was nice to get that healed so I could hit the ground running with my training," Moore told BlueJackets.com. "I've been very fortunate this year to have maintained my health so far with my training, and I've been able to make some significant gains strength-wise and with conditioning.
"It's got me really excited for the upcoming season, for sure."
The ankle is back to full strength, and thus, workouts are in full swing. Already well-known as one of the club's hardest workers both on and off the ice, Moore jumped right into his offseason program eager to make the necessary improvements to stick in the National Hockey League.
|John Moore (right) defends against Nick Spaling of the Predators. |
Head coach Todd Richards singled Moore out at the end of the season, pointing to his development as one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing year -- but that's not enough for Moore.
He's seen the changes made on the back end this summer: Marc Methot being dealt to Ottawa, Ryan Murray drafted at No. 2 overall and veteran Adrian Aucoin brought into the fold to help the young defensemen along. The competition level is going to rise during camp this year, he acknowledged, which has fueled him to work even harder in preparation for the fall.
"I think it's very exciting," Moore said. "You look at the way teams are rebuilding in the NHL these days, and it's from the back end out. It's such an exciting thing to be a part of.
"There are a lot of young, dynamic players on our blue line and hopefully I can be a part of that for the coming years."
The emphasis on conditioning isn't new to Moore; just two summers ago, he bulked up significantly and came into training camp in tremendous shape before taking on a top-four role with the Springfield Falcons (AHL). He was called up to the Blue Jackets that season, and this past October, notched his first career goal against the Detroit Red Wings. As a younger player in the NHL, Moore said that a solid work ethic is to expected -- but he's not willing to settle.
With a crowded blue line in Columbus this year (and beyond), performance is paramount.
"With all the young guys, you need to make sure you're staying focused with your strength and condition, first and foremost," Moore said. "That goes without saying at this level. You need to come in the best shape and ready to go.
"Playing against top players and being exposed to the NHL last season, you see how big and strong these guys are at this level. It's so important to be prepared from a strength standpoint, and I've really been getting after it in the gym."
Moore could only laugh when talking about how fast the offseason has gone by to this point, and anticipation is only going to grow louder in the next eight weeks.
"(Training camp) will come quick here in the next two months and it couldn't come any quicker," he said. "I speak for all the guys here in saying that we're ready to go and can't wait."