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Kimball Union's Bird kicks off Combine workouts

by Adam Kimelman

TORONTO -- Forward Tyler Bird is used to working hard in the gym at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire. But he rarely attracts an audience during his workouts.

It was a far different vibe Saturday when he entered the testing room at Toronto International Centre for the fitness testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine.

"Nobody's looking at you when you're at school," Bird told "You've got guys from 30 NHL teams watching [at the Combine]. It's a little bit more pressure."

Bird was the first player to go through the testing Saturday. That can be intimidating for some, but the 6-foot-2, 202-pound right wing didn't have a problem with it.

"Good to get it out of the way first," he said. "Everybody is looking at you to see what you do first; I kind of like that. I kind of like being first. It wasn't bad."

Ranked No. 117 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft, Bird had 33 goals and 60 points in 37 games at Kimball Union. He'll play at Brown University next season.

He said the test he had the most difficulty with was the VO2 Max bike test, mostly because it was a new experience for him.

"The VO2 was pretty tough," he said. "Mouth gets pretty dry. First time doing it, so that was pretty tough. I tried doing as many bike sprints as I could for the Wingate [bike test], but that was my first time [on the VO2]. It was pretty tough. I'm still a little out of breath from it."

Among those watching Bird was St. Lawrence University defenseman Gavin Bayreuther, who was the first player to enter the testing room. Bayreuther did not take part in any testing at the Combine; he has a broken scaphoid bone in his left wrist and will have surgery next week.

"I got hit [in February] ... and I thought it was just a sprain and it would get better but it never did," he said. "I went for X-rays last week and I get surgery on Wednesday."

He said his estimated recovery time is 3-4 months.

A 6-1, 175-pound left-shot defenseman, Bayreuther had nine goals and 36 points in 38 games as a freshman at St. Lawrence. He climbed 67 spots on Central Scouting's final rankings to No. 48 from No. 115 on the midterm list.

Bayruether was disappointed not to be able to showcase himself for the scouts. But after watching Bird and a few other players go through the testing, he didn't feel all that bad.

"From this side it looks a little intimidating," he said. "I trained hard all spring to get to this point. I practiced these and thought I was ready. Oh well."


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