The Boston Bruins were well represented in the fourth annual NHLPA Rookie Showcase, and Bostons young prospects had the gifts in hand to prove it.
Dougie Hamilton, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner are all concerned about a potential NHL lockout, but that was a worry for another day with so much going on around them in Toronto.
All you can do is hope that things start on time. Its easy to sit there and just worry about the negatives around it, but its not the best thing to do, said Spooner. Im saying to myself that the season is going to start on time, and that gives me the best chance to prepare. It would be easy to cut corners and say eh, the season isnt going to start on time and slack a bit. But Im not doing that.
All three Bs prospects had their likeness scanned for the latest edition of the EA Sports NHL Hockey 2013 video game, and also posed for plenty of photos snapped for what will eventually become their first hockey trading cards with Upper Deck and Panini America (the official trading card licensees of the NHLPA & NHL). The cards will be made once each member of the trio plays a game in the NHL.
Hamilton, Spooner and Knight were among 29 NHL hopefuls the most ever for the NHLPA event -- that the players association summoned to Toronto as players expected to make their NHL debuts this season.
Or at the very least players that are within striking distance of making it to the big leagues soon. Hamilton and Spooner had worked up a friendly rivalry as hockey video game adversaries over the last couple of days, and enjoyed getting back together so quickly after Bruins Development Camp in early July.
It was pretty fun. Very cool, said Hamilton, who has the best chance of the three players to crack the Bs roster out of training camp. There were a lot of pictures and autographs, but the best part was probably the full head scan by EA sports for the video game. They had 18 cameras for our head and profile and stuff.
They actually have the OHL in the game, so I made my video game debut two years ago. But the real debut as a member of the Bruins will be pretty cool.
The players went from station-to-station at the two-day event taking pictures, recording videos, playing video games against each other, and signing plenty of autographs for fans before taking in a dinner at the Hockey Hall of Fame. There were also plenty of free goodies for the players from Upper Deck and Panini.
Obviously Im here with Dougie and Jared, so thats awesome. Ive been able to sign some autographs and enjoy myself, said Spooner. Opening up hockey cards and playing NHL 2013 have both been pretty cool. I think Dougie and I opened up six or seven containers of hockey cards, so maybe like 2,000 each. Its been pretty cool for somebody that loves hockey.
NHLPA representatives Mathieu Schneider and Rob Zamuner also spoke to the 29 NHL prospects prior to the dinner, and wrapped up a nice little way for each of the youngster to cap off whats been an important summer.
Its been pretty busy. Were going from station-to-station, but its been really fun, said Knight. We just yesterday played in the EA video game tournament and each got a copy of the game. So I think Im going to go home and play it.
We did a bunch of head shots for the game as well. That was pretty cool. A lot of the guys here Ive played against and Id never really met before -- and a lot of guys from the Dub WHL and the Q QMJHL that Id never played against or met. So it was cool to get to know them and go out to dinner with them.
Hamilton, Spooner, Knight and the other 26 prospects spent much of Tuesday at the MasterCard Centre practice home of the Toronto Maple Leafs where they interacted with the media before finishing the day with a scrimmage on the ice. It was a brief whirlwind trip for young prospects getting ready for the biggest moments of their hockey careers to date, but its also another step prepared by the NHLPA to get those youngsters ready for their NHL close-up when it does arrive.