At the end of training camp 2010, the Bruins told Ryan Spooner
that he needed to put in the time to better, bigger and stronger.
He did that.
“There’s still room to improve,” said General Manager Peter Chiarelli this past summer. “[But] we take the testing very seriously and Ryan put the time in and you could see it in his play.”
However, if you ask Spooner, there’s still more work to be done.
“One thing for me I got to focus on this summer coming up is I have to skate more than I did last summer so I’m in top shape on the ice,” he said. “I need to be able to feel like I’m fast on the ice – I need to be lean.
"I’m trying to really focus on that…and when I come to training camp [next year], I’ll be ready to do well.”
Spooner, who was the Bruins 45th overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, led the Kingston Frontenacs with 81 points last season (19 with the Peterborough Petes), and has 32 points (off 14 goals and 18 assists) this season.
The Kanata, Ontario, native had a slow start to the season, but bounced back with 19 points in November. However, Spooner was hit with another challenge when he was diagnosed with mononucleosis Dec. 9.
“I got my game back on track – I was playing really well until I got mono,” Spooner said. “That was a bad bounce for me, but it’s part of life and I guess I have to look at it in a positive way and go from there.”
Now, the forward said he’s working toward getting back up to speed.
“I feel a bit tired out there,” Spooner said. “I didn’t play hockey for two and a half weeks, so that has something to do with it, but I’m going to practice, trying to skate and work out hard and hopefully I can get in top shape soon.”
Through the ups and downs of Spooner’s season, his competitiveness is evident. But his greatest skill is his hockey intelligence.
“When young players like [Ryan] Spooner, who has such good hockey sense, you want to see him and how he handles this level here,” Head Coach Claude Julien said after the start of training camp Sept. 17. “He’s got great speed and great vision and makes good plays.”
Hockey IQ isn’t something that can be worked on in practice. Instead, it’s a natural ability – a gift Spooner said he gets from his father.
“It’s definitely one of my strengths, something that has made me successful, but I still have a lot of learning to do,” said Spooner. “I’m still young and always looking to get better.”
Spooner played three games with Providence at the end of last season and he said getting back to the AHL is a goal that’s on his mind. But first, he’s committed to helping Kingston advance into the postseason.
“I had a great time playing there last year, I thought it was good for my development,” Spooner said. “But hopefully I can make a good playoff run here in the OHL and be successful in that way.
"If that happens, I’m not sure what will happen with Providence, but time will tell.”