It’s any hockey player’s dream.
As the Western Hockey League’s Alberta-based clubs begin play this weekend, the talk of the hockey world has been the Red Deer Rebels’ imaginative idea to house its players in its home rink in order to minimize their exposure to the pandemic.
The plan sees players staying within the confines of the arena and is sure to help the junior talents form close-knits bonds beyond honing their on-ice skills together. Basketball nets and ping-pong tables will undoubtedly drive healthy competition during the day, while at night the players will shut down in arena suites turned temporary bedrooms.
Among those players taking part in the once in a lifetime experience is Rebels forward and 2021 NHL Draft prospect Jayden Grubbe who talked about life at the rink, his excitement for getting the season underway, and more in the latest edition of the CHL Sunday Spotlight presented by WINMAR:
How are you preparing for the upcoming NHL Draft?
This year has been a little bit different with the extended offseason and the rinks closing in Alberta but I am just trying to do everything I can here now that we are back on the ice with the team and getting ready for the season. The biggest part for me is just bringing it every game and every shift knowing that there are people watching all of the time and not to let off.
What are the keys to finding success in a shortened season?
I think for us the biggest factor is just bringing it every night and being prepared. You only have the 24 games so you have to bring it every night. You can’t hold anything back, so just come out ready.
What is it like to play under a respected coach like Brent Sutter?
It’s a huge honour. He has a lot of experience and knowledge of the game over his years of playing and coaching. Not only on the ice, but off the ice he teaches his players everything you need to know about life. He is someone you can go to about personal stuff or anything you need. He is there for his team and he cares about everyone.
Which NHL player do you model your game after and why?
I like to compare myself to a player like Jamie Benn. He brings a physical presence. He is gritty around the net and after the whistle. He can bring some speed, skill, and goal scoring, but he is also hard to play against and that is the biggest thing. He is someone who brings layers to his game and he can play a complete game.
What has life been like living out of the team arena?
So far, it has been a pretty cool experience. We have a pretty good setup. We are all staying busy playing basketball, ping-pong, and whatever we can when we are not on the ice. We are hanging out with teammates and getting that connection going before we start the season here.