After the second round of cuts were made over the weekend, defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk is still hanging on at Kings camp in LA. Believed to be ticketed for Manchester at some point, he’s still clinging to the idea – read: confident – he can make Darryl Sutter’s team, despite the numbers suggesting otherwise.
Even though Nick Deslauriers, Colin Miller and Alex Roach have left, there are still nine guys standing on the blueline with NHL contracts in hand. Only eight spots are likely available for next week’s opening night, hence the issue. Plus, add in the fact that 2010 first round pick Derek Forbort is still being given a look in camp and one would normally start to let some doubt creep in.
“It’s a great time of year, I think it brings the best out of everyone,” said the seemingly upbeat 25-year old. “Everybody is sharp and alert coming into the rink. Best foot forward every time on the ice. It’s a fun time of the year.”
And the dream of returning to the NHL, where he played five games with the Boston Bruins in 2010, is as alive as ever. The AHL is further away in his mind than the 3,000 miles separating the Monarchs and Kings.
“When I’m here, I’m here. It doesn’t matter if it’s training camp, if you’re called up during the season or if you’re a Black Ace during the playoffs – when you’re here with the team, you’re here with the team 100% mentally. You can’t control what happens, but you can control how you play. Like I said, putting your best foot forward every time you’re on the ice and making sure you’re not leaving anything in the tank.”
Although he’s seen limited game action in the pre-season thus far, Bodnarchuk’s still been satisfied with what he’s been able to show the coaching staff and his teammates.
“I definitely felt comfortable out there and I felt like I was able to play my game the way I play. Quick back on pucks and move the pucks to our play makers up front, tape to tape, and physical when I can. So, I was really happy with my play, and if anything it’s definitely a confidence booster to reassure that I can play in this league.”
Among the forwards, one of the early surprises in camp was Scott Sabourin, a teammate of Bodnarchuk’s late last season in Manchester. If the two ever had to square off though, he thinks he might have the answer to at least slowing that train down a bit.
“You have to get inside on the guy and try to tie him up. He’s a big, rangy guy and if it ever came down to it, where I didn’t have a choice or I had to step up for my team, I guess I’d try to tie up his arms as much as you can. Being a lanky, rangy guy, you don’t want to get outside on him.”
While ‘sneaky tough’ was an expression floating around camp regarding Sabourin, Bodnarchuk says that phrase was just as applicable to somebody else in the not-to-distant past.
“I think if we did this interview early last year, when I first met [Andy] Andreoff, I would have said in his first fights he’s sneaky tough, because I think he caught a few guys off guard coming into the AHL last year. Where as a first year guy, you don’t really have a name for yourself, and you have a few good tilts and it gets around the league pretty quickly that you’re a tough guy. So, coming into camp this year, people knew that. I think Sabourin’s that type of guy who probably fared really well in junior and was known as a tougher individual in junior. Coming into pro now, his first year pro and coming into his first camp, he’s not known as a big, heavy thrower. So, I think he’ll creep up on some people. Hopefully our opponents aren’t listening to this interview too much because he’s a really tough kid and he’s a gamer.”
In addition to sessions in the gym, reviewing video and drills on the ice, camp can grind along back at the hotel too, where downtime can become a little boring if you let it. Not so for Bodnarchuk though, he’s making the most of it instead.
“After every skate and after every game, being professional athletes, you go through stuff in your head about what you might do differently or good plays you made that you think you can do on a consistent basis,” he began. “But for the most part, living in a hotel, I rack up a lot of time on Netflix and I’m crushing lots of episodes of TV shows, so I’m getting all caught up on my shows.”
“I fell behind in Breaking Bad quite a bit and I think I’ve crushed about two seasons in less than a week, here. I’ve been putting the pedal down on Breaking Bad.”
He’s also one of the many players on twitter. You would think avoiding tweets about what’s going on in the more current episodes would be a real challenge. But again, it’s no problem for Bodnarchuk – he has it all figured out.
“I choose my follows carefully. Definitely if someone cranks out a few spoiler alerts, they get an unfollow pretty quickly.”
You’ve been warned.
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