Ryan Murray was being polite, but he wasn’t buying the question, not in the least. I had asked him, since his left shoulder had been bothering him before the dislocation last November, if it wasn’t for the best that the injury happened now, when he is still very young and can likely bounce back quickly.
After pausing for a bit, the soft-spoken defenseman and 2nd overall pick by the Blue Jackets in the 2012 draft replied, “You can definitely take positives out, although you’ve gotta dig pretty deep to get them. I’m glad that I got it fixed, and now I can get it back to 100 percent, get it back where it needs to be. It’s good that I can start working on it again, and it’ll be good as new, hopefully.”
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That’s what Murray is doing these days, working on his shoulder, right here in Columbus under the watchful eyes of the team’s training staff. Murray hurt the shoulder in a mid-November game, playing with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL against the Victory Royals. He explained what happened that night.
“Actually, the shoulder was bothering me for about a year,” he said. “It was just accumulating and accumulating, and finally I went to hit a guy, and he hit me and it just let go. It was really disappointing, with all the hype during the summer and the draft and all that, to not even get a tryout (with the Blue Jackets). But that’s hockey, and that’s life, and that’s the way it goes. It’s definitely disappointing but something you’ve gotta work through.”
One of the disappointments was the initial postponement of his surgery. His doctor decided against performing the procedure right after the injury, preferring instead to let things in Murray’s shoulder settle down.
“I had to wait a month and a half to even get in for surgery because there were some issues going on after the dislocation,” noted Murray. “So I had to wait for those to heal up before the doctor wanted to do the surgery. That knocked me back a little bit, and right now I’m 10 weeks post-surgery. I could’ve been a little bit ahead of the schedule I’m at right now, but obviously it’s important to follow the doctor’s best advice. You can’t argue with that.”
Something else we can’t argue with is the progress Murray is making just two and a half months after his procedure. He’s skating every day, and while he isn’t taking any slapshots yet, that doesn’t mean he’s not directing puck to net. The kid who put up 121 points in 191 WHL games is definitely finding the back of the twine these days during his post-surgical comeback.
“I can shoot right now, actually,” he said with a smile. “I’ve been out shooting, and as long as it doesn’t hurt or bother me, it’s OK. I haven’t taken any slapshots yet, but wrist shots, I can rip them as hard as I can, and it never hurts, never gets sore, never bothers me. I guess that’s a good sign, so far.”
If he’s able to avoid any setbacks, Murray should be able to let loose with his left handed slapshots and then start taking contact as the spring rolls into summer. His medical advisors have told him contact is likely a month and a half to three months away, which would put him on pace to attend his second Blue Jackets Prospect Camp. In the meantime, he’s thrilled to be around the NHL team for this phase of his rehab.
“It’s great they invited me down, and I can work with the trainers and meet all the guys on the team, and kind of get my feet wet a little bit,” said the Saskatchewan native. “I’m sure I’ll learn a lot here, and I’m just trying to go into the room every day and soak in as much as I can.
“I love it here so far the short time that I’ve been here” he added. “I got to come down for development camp last year, too, and I think the future’s going to be bright here.”
When he does get himself completely healthy and ready for the 2013-14 season, Murray is excited to think he may become an integral part of the rebuilding phase and bright future in Columbus. He’s well aware of the excellent core of players this franchise has moving forward and is anxious to join the mix and contribute.
“Yeah, absolutely, there’s a lot of talent and a lot of good players here” he said. “I’m going to have my work cut out for me to try to make this squad next year. It’s a great building phase they’re going through right now. I think within a few years, hopefully, we’ll have a team here that can contend every year, and that will be great. But obviously my first focus is to work as hard as I can to make the team.”