COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ryan Murray's road to recovery begins today.
Almost two months after suffering a serious shoulder injury in a game against the Victoria Royals, the Blue Jackets prospect and Everett Silvertips captain underwent successful surgery today to repair his shoulder. John Davidson told BlueJackets.com earlier this week that Murray's surgery was scheduled for one the next two Thursdays, and in fact, it took place this morning.
Murray is expected to make a full recovery after a rehabilitation period of approximately six months, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson confirmed.
The 19-year-old defenseman was selected in the first round (second overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, and appeared at the Blue Jackets' annual development camp in July. He represented Canada in the Canada-Russia Challenge in August, and also captained Team WHL in the CHL Subway Super Series in Vancouver.
He was expected to be part of Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia, but the shoulder injury guaranteed he would miss the remainder of this season.
Within a matter of days, he had everything packed up from his place in New York and set the GPS for central Ohio eager to start the next chapter of his career. The informal player practices began at the OhioHealth Ice Haus not long after, and he started laying the foundation for a fresh start with the Blue Jackets.
Though the official start of his career in Columbus has been delayed a few months, it has done nothing to dilute Dubinsky’s anticipation for the NHL season.
“Now that it’s finally solved and we’re ready to go, it’s been really nice to get back here with the boys and skate and play,” Dubinsky told BlueJackets.com. “I’m excited in the same way I was this summer, but I’m a little more anxious now that we’ve gone through half a season and haven’t played yet.
“It’s a fresh start here. I’ve had an opportunity to spend some time here in Columbus (since the summer), and I really love the city and the people have been great.”
Because he was able to get into town early and develop relationships with his new teammates, taking part in his first informal skate today wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable. It was as if nothing had changed, Dubinsky said, other than the calendar turning a few more pages.
During the early part of the 2011-12 season, the now 25-year-old center struggled to find his way into the lineup on a consistent basis and often found himself on the club's fourth line. The team had trouble scoring goals and winning games in what concluded as a trying season on multiple fronts, but among the highlights down the stretch was Brassard's emergence as the potential top-six center they think he can be.
In the 41 games played under Richards last season, Brassard put up nine goals and 20 assists -- a healthy portion of his 41-point total in 74 games. Playing most of his minutes on the Blue Jackets' No. 1 line, he showed flashes of the playmaking and goal-scoring ability that made him a high first-round pick in 2006.
Fast forward seven years later, and Brassard knows the upcoming 2013 season is his most important one to date. With Richards retained as the full-time coach in May, Brassard figures to carry a similar role this year on a team with several talented young players.
“It’s really exciting for me," Brassard told BlueJackets.com today. "I like the way I finished the season last year, and that’s the level I want to be at. I know I can be a big part of this team, making plays and putting up some points for the boys and helping the team win."
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."