Friday, September 19, 2008

So you wanna be a professional hockey player? Pt. 4

Oren Eizenman continues his quest for entry into the NHL. Today, Oren's thoughts on his last training camp game with the Canucks' versus the Edmonton Oilers. And Oren answers more of your questions!

I woke up Tuesday with a familiar feeling that I hadn’t felt for quite some time: soreness. Often I don’t feel the minor bumps and scrapes that are an unavoidable part of hockey until the next morning. I assume that my body is a little slow to react to things and that it needs a night to digest all the abuse it takes. Clearly, I am not a scientist. In a strange way, I missed that feeling all summer, as I think I’ve grown quite fond of it over the years.

Day two in Camrose brought with it a chance to play the Oilers’ rookies. Images of Gretzky to Kurri danced in my head. I think I impressed some people with my play against the Flames, but as an undrafted free-agent, there is no such thing as a night off. To really make the organization take notice, I needed to play better than I did the night before.

I prepared for the game like I always do, and even found some time during the day to work on the business that a friend and I are starting back in Toronto. Brandon Luft (one of my best friends from CHAT) and I are starting a summer hockey camp for Jewish kids in the Toronto area. I already own a hockey camp in Troy, New York (where I went to university), and know how much hard work goes into starting such an operation, so any time I can devote to our new business is good. It was nice to be able to do some work to distract myself a bit. I find that I play better if I don’t start focusing on the game too early in the day, but with so much on the line, it was hard to keep my thoughts from drifting to hockey. After my pre-game meal and nap, I allowed myself to become fully immersed in game-day preparations.

I started out playing very well. Three shots in my first two shifts had me thinking that I was just around the corner from my second goal in as many nights, and maybe that was what got me off my game. Nobody ever gives you anything in hockey; the second you let up and think that you’re good enough to not have to out-compete everybody on the ice is second that you cease to be effective. The rest of the game saw me try to regain my early form, with varying results. If I had to describe my night, I would say that my game was a bit overly safe and tentative, with occasional flashes where I showed how I can really play.

All in all, I was disappointed with my performance considering the situation I was in. I couldn’t just be a good player, I had to stand out in order to push my way into a spot in the organization. I don’t have the leeway that a drafted player has.
I did pick up an assist, which, coupled with my team’s victory (5-2) offered some consolation. After the game, we went back to the team plane (see previous blog – it’s sweet) which took us on another very pleasant flight. We landed in Vancouver just after midnight and immediately went back the hotel.

A sleepless night is all that now separates me from a meeting with the coaches that will let me know where I stand. I’m not nervous about the meeting, I just always have trouble sleeping after I play a bad game. I replay my mistakes in my mind all night. It’s a lot like a really bad pop song, I desperately want to get it out of my head, but it just won’t leave.

I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

All the best,


---------- Q & A With Oren Eizenman--------------
1. How do you and the other tryout players get along? It must be competitive
because you guys are competing for a spot?

Answer: The other players and I get along quite well. We all realize the situation and we know that we are competing against each other but that doesn’t stop us from being nice (or at least civil).

2. How did your development at C.H.A.T (Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto) , both athletically and socially help mould the hockey player and person you are today?

Answer: I’d say that CHAT had a lot more to do with shaping the person I am today than the hockey player I am. When I was growing up I always had my hockey friends and my school friends, and for the most part they were separate. From an athletic standpoint, CHAT was a lot of fun, but didn’t help my development so much. From a social standpoint, it was sometimes rough, but helped my personal development a great deal. I think that you learn something from every different situation you are in and I’ve been in a lot of different situations, especially in the last couple of years. I’m not really sure how each situation contributes to my social and athletic development, but I’m sure that they all do.

3. What added pressure do you feel as an Israeli and Jew to make the NHL? Do you feel the weight of our homeland and ancient tradition on your shoulder pads each time you take to the ice? Can't wait to hear back!

Answer: I certainly do not feel any added pressure because of my background. If anything, I feel a great deal of pride. I love that wherever I go I have an entire community’s support… before I ever play a shift! I realize that being a Jewish hockey player is a rarity, and being an Israeli hockey player is even more of one. I am very proud of my background and it has certainly shaped me into the person I am today.

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