Kerby Rychel is used to proving doubters wrong.
He's had to face questions about being too small to make it to the NHL, whether he could score enough goals to keep a spot or playing in the shadow of his father, former NHL tough guy Warren Rychel. Playing in his hometown of Windsor, Ont. in front of scouts and hockey types over the years hasn't fazed him, either, and it has all helped him prepare for his first professional training camp.
TRAINING CAMP CENTRAL
The Blue Jackets have high hopes for the kid, too, as evidenced by selecting him 19th overall in this year's NHL Draft in New Jersey. They like his willingness to compete, go to the "hard areas" to score and his commitment to playing a pro-style game.
As camp gets into full swing this week in Columbus, those are the things Rychel wants to prove to the Blue Jackets coaching staff.
"I have to just do what I do best and do what got my here," Rychel said. "Play my game and work hard at everything, whether it's in the gym or on the ice and be a good person and do the best that I can at everything.
"I'm still a young player, and I have to improve at everything. But for the most part, I play a pro-style game and I can score and I can fight. The little details are something I need to work on, but it'll come for sure."
He was one of the Blue Jackets rookies to get game experience during the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., where the team split its four-game schedule and finished in fourth place.
Rychel played with some of the organization's top prospects and was able to gear up for main camp, which has been a valuable experience and one that father lent some advice for.
"He said to come and work hard and get noticed," Rychel said. "And don't try to blend in."
Whether he stays in Columbus deep into camp or is sent back to his junior team (Windsor Spitfires), Rychel wants this to be a good learning experience that will help him in a leadership role and potentially on an international stage this winter.
"I think I'll be in a leadership role with this being my last year and hopefully I'll be the captain," Rychel said. "And if I am sent back, a goal of mine is definitely to make the World Junior team at Christmas and hopefully I'll win a championship."