Ryan Murray was encouraged by his 2015-16 campaign, but knows he needs to be even better this coming season.
He played all 82 games and, later in the year, was paired with newcomer Seth Jones, giving Blue Jackets fans a glimpse of a possible long-term anchor defense pairing. This fall, he will represent Team North America (players 23-and-under from the United States and Canada) at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, alongside Columbus teammates Jones and Brandon Saad.
We caught up with him recently to discuss what's ahead.
CBJ.com: When does your training start to accelerate again?
Murray: It probably started (in earnest) three or four weeks ago. I’m being hammering it out 3-5 times a week and then skating twice a week, and then that’ll increase as we get later into July. Once August hits, it’s ‘go time’ and I’ll start skating more often, maybe 3-4 times each week and it definitely gets more intense and more serious.
CBJ.com: Does that approach change at all this summer because of the World Cup of Hockey, which basically shortens your summer?
RM: I don’t think so; I don’t bulk up as much as I used to, and my training is structured a lot differently than it used to be when I was younger. It’s all about being ready to go, and preparing yourself and your body to last the entire season – you don’t just want to be able to play in those later months and into the playoffs, but you want to be strong. That’s what I’ve focused on the most, rather than getting huge…for me, it’s making sure everything is working properly and everything feels good before we get going.
CBJ.com: How do you stay busy and occupy your offseason down time?
RM: I’ve been golfing a lot. I’m spending a lot of time with my friends both here and back home. I usually find a way to stay busy, but mostly, I’ve played a lot of golf and it’s been fun.
CBJ.com: What’s your handicap now?
RM: It’s down to a 10. Two years ago, I’ll bet you I was a 20 handicap and I was struggling. But I’ve worked on hitting the ball properly and learning how to swing properly; a couple helpful tips from my friends who are scratch golfers back home have really helped. When you play 20-plus rounds with them, you pick up a few things here and there.
CBJ.com: What’s the buzz been like among your Team North America teammates? What do you think of a bunch of 23-and-under guys taking on the likes of Canada, Sweden, the U.S., etc?
RM: I’ve talked to a few of the guys. When I was at the World Championship, there were a few of the (under-23 players) there with us so we chatted a little bit; we’re all really excited for the World Cup. The big thing for us is: we have no idea what it’s going to be like. We’ve never been part of a format like this where it’s the younger guys taking on the top dogs…it’s a little different. It’ll be really fun and a great experience for all of us. A lot of us might not have the team to participate in the World Cup if not for this format, so we’re excited to have the opportunity. And you know what? In a 60-minute game, anything can happen, and we’ve got a lot of good players on our team. You never know.