How would you keep in touch with your former teammates during a work stoppage?
“We’re in a fantasy football league together,” Chris Kreider said with a laugh after the Connecticut Whale beat the Hershey Bears 3-1 on Oct. 26.
Such is life for the Rangers’ wonder kid. Instead of getting donuts and lugging bags, he’s beating everyone to James Jones on the waiver wire. It’s a far cry from the NHL-ready skill set he flashed last spring and it’s fair to wonder if starting in Hartford over Broadway stuck with him.
On that Friday night, Kreider spent much of the first period drifting, so much so that one person wondered if he would have been better off carrying an ad banner than a hockey stick.
Last season, split between Boston College and the Rangers, Chris Kreider played a total of 62 games which was the most he has played in one season.
In his first two seasons Kreider, between BC and representing Team USA, played around 50 games.
Ken Gernander told the NY Times that one of the big things that Kreider will have to go through this season is dealing with an 80 game, plus playoff, grind.
“For Chris right now the challenge is to develop into a professional. He’s never had to play an 80-game grind. Big moments like the N.C.A.A. tournament or the world junior championship, it’s not the same as a professional who has to grind it out with the same group over the long haul just to get into the playoffs.”
At ESPN Insider, Craig Custance spoke with Rangers assistant coach/assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld about Chris Kreider.
Custance writes that often times with second year players, though Kreider isn’t technically one, the player goes through a slump after he feels he has made it to the big leagues.
Schoenfeld tells Custance that the feeling of entitlement or “making it” won’t be an issue for Kreider, “We’ve been given every indication that he wants to be better and he wants to continually grow. We’re confident he’s going to accept instruction, learn and gain experience.”
Custance writes that Kreider is going through a process that is very beneficial right now, “getting time in the AHL without the spotlight and microscope in New York should pay off.”
Kreider himself said, “I’m here to play and here to get better. I’m a rookie. There is still a ton to be learned and I’m just getting my feet wet. It’s my first pro camp, so it’s difficult. It’s difficult for everyone but it’s nothing I have experienced before so it’s a learning experience.”
Ken Gernander said of Kreider, “He is just getting his feet wet and if he comes down with the right attitude it will help his development. I think he has a good respect for the American Hockey League. There are going to be no cake walks.”
In two preseason games over the weekend, Chris Kreider had four goals including a hat trick on Sunday.
On his experience of going through training camp and playing in the AHL, Kreider told the team’s website “it’s been fun. There is a ton to learn still so it’s fun and exciting to come to the rink and get better.
Kreider added that his enthusiasm for the game comes through all the time, “I use the words exciting and fun a lot because it is. It’s easy to get up in the morning and be pumped up to get to the rink.”
I got in the weight room and waited to get on the ice as a lot of people told me not to skate that much in the offseason heading into my first year. I was antsy to get back on the ice but I think I went about it the right way and I asked a lot of the guys how they structure their summer.
On his performance over the weekend, Kreider recieved praise from inside and outside the organization:
Ken Gernander told the team’s website, “You can see what he can do featuring those two great skills he has: the speed to go wide around just about anyone, and that hard snap shot. He was impressive.”
Former Whale player Jonathon Audy-Marchessault said “he’s got a great shot.”
Gernander has said that Kreider will play in all-situations for the Whale and told the team’s website, “It’s not like he has 18, 12 years under his belt. He is just getting his feet wet and if he comes down with the right attitude it will help his development. I think he has a good respect for the American Hockey League. There are going to be no cake walks.”
In an interview with the team’s website recently, Chris Kreider revealed that he spent some time working with teammate Brian Boyle on faceoffs.
On why he was doing that, Kreider said “You can’t kill penalties unless you can take faceoffs and (smiling) you have to be able to block shots which is something that I not all that good at. You gotta be able to take draws. It’s a useful skillset to have if the center gets kicked. I want to get better.”