Ryan Murray's most prevalent emotion after suffering a season-ending shoulder surgery wasn't anger or bitterness, but disappointment.
There were significant events coming up in his junior hockey career, and months after being selected second overall by the Blue Jackets, he was looking forward to playing on big stages and possibly cracking the NHL roster during training camp.
But those things had to wait in order to do what's best for his career. Murray will have surgery to repair his injured shoulder sometime in the next two weeks, Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said yesterday.
And despite the disappointment of missing the World Junior Hockey Championship -- where he was Sharpie-d on to Team Canada's star-studded blueline -- Murray has managed to keep his spirits up and look forward to the challenge of getting back to 100 percent.
John Davidson is as fired up as anyone to get the season started, but he preached patience this morning when discussing plans for the upcoming training camp.
While the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement awaits ratification from both the Board of Governors and the Players Association (expected to be completed by the end of the week), Davidson and the Blue Jackets hockey operations staff have jumped into full-fledged planning mode for what is likely to be a short training camp.
Depending upon the official start of camps -- NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press that the plan is currently for a Sunday start -- teams will have between five days and a week to get into motion for a 48-game regular season.
And though no plans have been finalized by the Blue Jackets, Davidson said the process for making those decisions is well under way.
"We're going to have some meetings (Tuesday) on all that stuff," Davidson said. "Some teams, I'm sure, are going to bring in 30 players and some are going to want their roster at 23 and that's it. That's all going to be discussed."
He hasn't been in town for long, but one of the first things Johnson wanted to do was get back together with his teammates -- some of whom he hasn't seen in months nor played a game with since April. The palpable sense of excitement that came with yesterday's maiden skate carried over to this morning, and like the previous session, R.J. Umberger took the informal lead and kept things organized.
Not much changed from yesterday's skate, but there were more "battle" drills and competitive reps that weren't present on Monday. As the number of players on the ice increases (and we expect that to be the case in the next 48 hours), the nature of the practices should change accordingly.
But this morning, Johnson said the highlight was being back where he wants to be.
"It's great...I haven't seen these guys in a while and we've been keeping in touch over the phone," Johnson said. "It kind of makes it more of a reality now that I'm back here skating with the guys and being around the locker room, and moving back into our places."
When Nick Foligno was traded to the Blue Jackets in July, he had a few short weeks to get everything together and get settled in his new home while trying to meet his new teammates.
A group of players got together for informal skates at the OhioHealth Ice Haus in August before the lockout, and as some looked elsewhere for options to play, the group slowly dwindled and Foligno himself had to find other places to skate.
Now that the team is beginning to reconvene in Columbus in preparation of the 2013 NHL season, Foligno is excited on two levels: one, the thrill of playing NHL hockey is on the horizon, and also, he feels "officially" part of the Blue Jackets after a practice today with eight teammates.
"Yeah, I really do (feel part of the Blue Jackets now)," Foligno told BlueJackets.com. "Now that I know I can go around the locker room and meet everybody again. I'm so happy to be here, and so excited for the season to start and I'm really looking forward to a good season here and having a lot of fun."
The 25-year-old forward was acquired shortly after free agency began in exchange for Marc Methot, and GM Scott Howson was attracted to Foligno's versatility and ability to play all three forward positions. He's coming off a career year with 15 goals and 47 points with the Ottawa Senators, and being in his mid-20s, Howson and the Blue Jackets feel Foligno's best hockey is ahead of him.
After a signing a three-year, $9.25 million contract with the Blue Jackets on July 6, Foligno is anxious to get back into game shape and prepare for what he hopes is a successful debut season in Columbus.
The New Jersey Devils won the Stanley Cup in June of 1995, with the National Hockey League playing a 48-game regular season that began in mid-January. Circumstances are similar to what the league and its team face now, with the season likely to begin in the next two weeks.
For the Blue Jackets, the season can't come soon enough and nine of them took to the ice this morning at the OhioHealth Ice Haus in anticipation of things getting under way. More players are expected to arrive in the coming days and more are arriving today pending travel arrangements, but the prevailing emotion of excitement was the theme of the morning.
After a 70-minute or so skate today - which also featured former Ohio State forward Dave Steckel (Toronto Maple Leafs) - the focus shifted toward the re-shaped Blue Jackets and the club's outlook for what figures to be a fast and furious NHL season.
Who has the advantage? What do players and teams need to focus on to stay fresh? There was a variety of thoughts and ideas, which will no doubt be discussed in further detail once formal meetings and practices begin.
"You have to get out to good start, and you have to stay healthy," James Wisniewski told BlueJackets.com. "We can't have a start like we had last year and be 1-7, that just can't happen. If you can start off hot, you're literally sitting pretty."
Phil Housley shrugged off a disappointing preliminary round, saying he simply wanted his team to get better with each game. Mission accomplished.
With two clutch goals from Rocco Grimaldi, who was benched for an entire game earlier in the tournament, Team USA put away defending champion Sweden 3-1 to win the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship today.
John Gibson, by far the best American player in the tournament (and quite possibly the best, period), stood tall in goal for the United States and earned the honor as tournament MVP.
Team USA knew Sweden would be its sternest test, not only as last year's champion but one of the most solid all-around teams in the tournament. Even without three of its top players out to injury, Sweden had a tough road to the gold medal game and had to outlast host Russia in a shootout just two days ago.
And the Swedes were better from the start, showing their puck-possession game and strong puck support that's made them a junior hockey powerhouse in the last decade. After scoring the opening goal of the game, though, Team USA seemed to awaken and got started with its pressure game -- and Sweden struggled with it.