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van Riemsdyk Takes Part in First Practice

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
Second overall pick gets first taste of life as a Flyer

Complete interview with James van Riemsdyk (audio): 56K

(Voorhees, NJ, July 9) – In case he didn’t know what kind of attention he would be getting, James van Riemsdyk quickly found out as soon as he stepped off the ice following his first practice as a Flyer as prospect mini-camp got underway on Sunday.

After sitting down in his locker at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone, van Riemsdyk was immediately surrounded by local reporters and the glaring lights of the television cameras, and had to endure some good-natured ribbing from his fellow prospects attending the mini-camp.

It’s all a part of being the second overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft just a couple of weeks ago.
James van Riemsdyk talks with a local reporter on the first day of Flyers mini-camp. (Flyers Photos)

“On draft day, there is so much hype, and so much stuff that doesn’t really have to do with hockey.  It’s good to get on the ice and just be out there with the guys and show my abilities,” said van Riemsdyk.

The Middletown, New Jersey native walked into the locker room on Sunday morning to see his practice jersey hanging in his stall for the first time. Each jersey has an oversized number on the back to make it easier to identify the 41 prospects in camp, and van Riemsdyk was assigned a number that is pretty familiar to Flyers fans.

The last time the number 10 was worn in Philadelphia, it belonged to future Flyers Hall-of-Famer John LeClair, a player that van Riemsdyk has already been compared to due to his size (6’3’’, 200 pounds) and goal-scoring prowess.

“Once I walked in and I saw [number] 10, I’m was like, ‘oh, it’s John LeClair’s number,’” he said.  “He had a really great career and I haven’t accomplished anything yet, so it’s just an honor to be compared to him because I know he had such a great career and he’s a good player.

“If I’m compared to someone like that, I must be doing something right.  There are some pretty big expectations and some goals for me to shoot for, but what the heck; you might as well shoot as high as you can.”

van Riemsdyk, along with several other top prospects including second round pick in 2007, defenseman Kevin Marshall, are getting their first taste of what life is like to be a part of the Flyers organization. The mini-camp is being run on the ice by Phantoms Head Coach Craig Berube and Assistant Coach Kjell Samuelsson, as well as Flyers Assistant Coach Joe Mullen. The off-ice training is being conducted by Athletic Trainer/Strength and Conditioning Coach Jim McCrossin.

The prospects have little time to rest. If they aren’t on the ice, in the gym or outside running sprints, they are sitting through presentations and taking part in discussions with team personnel.

“It was probably a little bit tougher than what I expected, but I know it takes a lot of hard work to play in the league,” said van Riemsdyk. “I’m willing to do that.”

Still, no matter how difficult it may be, it is the first of many positive experiences that van Riemsdyk hopes to be a part of.

“I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing and keep getting better, and hopefully one day soon I’ll be wearing a Flyers jersey.”
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