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Poehling: 'If I had to do it again, I'd just enjoy the process more'

Ryan Poehling will always remember being put to the test at the NHL Combine in Buffalo

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - While some prospects might be nervous about interviewing with teams at the NHL Combine, that wasn't the case for Ryan Poehling.

Poehling sat down with 29 of the League's 31 organizations on site for the annual event in May 2017, answering questions aplenty over several days in Buffalo.

"That part didn't scare me as much as the training stuff did. You'd think it would be the other way around," said Poehling. "Twenty-nine interviews is pretty crazy, going from room to room for like four days straight."

Meeting with the Canadiens' brass was a memorable experience for the St. Cloud State University product, so to speak. 

He'll never forget entering the room for the all-important chat.

"I remember walking in and I feel like everyone on the pre-scouting staff is just jacked, just big," recalled Poehling. "I remember sitting down and instantly I was like 'Oh, jeez.' You try not to show it, but I definitely think they could tell."

Fast forward to the physical testing portion of the NHL Combine where the young centerman was partnered with fellow Minnesotan Casey Mittelstadt, who was his roommate for the event as well.

"We kind of did each exercise together and it was pretty funny because he got on the pull bar before me and he didn't do one pull up. I gave him a lot of grief for that," cracked Poehling, at his good buddy's expense. "I was up next and I was wondering 'Is it that hard?' I thought I could get eight or nine, but I only ended up getting five. I was just so shocked that he didn't get one. It was just a big joke. That's probably one of the things I remember from the whole fitness part of it."

Then, there's the Wingate Cycle Ergometer Test. 

"At the end of the 30-second part where you're going as hard as you can, they drop the weight. They've got a hype guy screaming at you and telling you to go faster and faster. I got off of it and went to the back room and there were like three guys throwing up," mentioned Poehling. "I lay down for like 30 minutes because I felt so light-headed. I didn't end up puking, though, which was nice."

Nevertheless, if Poehling could change anything about his stay in Western New York, better controlling his nerves would be at the top of the list.

"Looking back, it's so silly. When it came to the training stuff, leading up to it, I was so anxious going to bed. I wish I just wasn't. It's about doing what you can and it's all going to fall into place," explained Poehling. "It's fun to look back at it and joke about it. You take it so seriously, and it does matter to an extent, but you're so young, you have so much time to grow. If I had to do it again, I'd just enjoy the process more so than being so anxious about it."

That's the message Poehling would share with prospects going through the NHL Combine process this time around. 

"You've got to be confident, especially in the interviews. You've got to realize that there's only 100 guys there, so it's pretty special to be in that group," emphasized Poeling. "They attack you pretty hard in some of the interviews with questions, but you've just got to stand your ground and be confident in what you believe in."

Talking Habs

On the morning of June 23, 2017, Poehling had one final meeting with the Habs' brass ahead of the opening round of the NHL Draft in Chicago.

It was during that sitdown that the soon-to-be 25th overall pick felt like Montreal might just be his future hockey home.

"I thought I had a good chance of going there because they really hammered me with questions, like hard questions," revealed Poehling, of the encounter in his hotel room. "I left there with a good feeling. I thought they would be taking me, if I was available."

Video: Canadiens draft F Ryan Poehling No. 25

Fortunately, everything worked out for the best for both sides and Poehling officially joined the Canadiens' fold just a short time later.

And that was followed up this past April by his legendary NHL debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre to close out the 2018-19 campaign.

Video: TOR@MTL: Poehling nets hatty, SO winner in NHL debut

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