Imagine your own life for a second, no matter what you do.
Imagine that you’re just going through the motions of school or your career. You’re in a daily routine of getting up, getting ready and performing your daily functions. Imagine you’ve been doing it like this for a long time.
Now, without any warning, imagine I come up to you and say, “Pack it up. We’re sending you to work for another company.” How would you react to this?
If you’re like most people, you’d feel shock. You immediately start to wonder what happened, how’d it get to this point. Questions would start swirling in your head. Everything you knew to be true about your life was uprooted in a matter of seconds.
A New Experience
That’s quite a feeling isn’t it? Well the Columbus Blue Jackets have multiple players on their roster who just went through this very experience. While Matt Duchene has been down this road, this trade deadline and the aftermath is a whole new experience for Ryan Dzingel.
Now think for a second what they’re going through when this news breaks. I’ve got to get my family situated. I’ve got to figure out how to get my stuff from home to where my new place is. Oh and I’m being thrown into a playoff race on a team where I don’t know anybody.
This is a story of adjusting to a new team while taking care of business in the background. Dzingel recapped some things for us about his transition from Ottawa to Columbus. Think this was easy? Think again.
“You think it’d be easy. You have it setup that you’re going to get traded that you know a couple weeks in advance but it’s not,” Dzingel said. New city, living in a hotel, family and everything, trying to get down and see them. Things are weird. You’re trying to get all your old stuff out of your old place. It’s a little bit different lifestyle. You just have to get used to it.”
Now that’s he’s been in Columbus for some time, most of the moving stuff is done. But what about the adjustments on the ice?
“The first couple of games were weird, felt a little bit different for me. I’m trying to feel it out. We got guys in here that are here to make a difference and have done that all year so we are just here to help out, complement them.”
He really focused on trying to stay out of the way.
“It’s a little weird now. You have your daily routine. You have your pregame routine with your team the way you do your stupid little things everyday with certain guys on the ice. Then you come here and everyone has their own routine so you’re just trying to tread the water, get out of the way. I think you gotta get over that quickly. I think I have. At first I came in here not trying to step on anyone’s toes and make sure everyone’s ok. But you gotta put the pedal down and play your game too. It’s definitely been a learning lesson for me in my first try.”
John Tortorella said he wanted to get Dzingel some time on the PK. He’s only seen a couple of shifts. He says that’s a good thing though. It shows the guys on the ice having a bunch of success. It also allows him to watch and learn from a distance. So when the time comes he’s needed, he’ll be more comfortable and ready.
Has it been a challenge to adapt to the new surroundings?
“You’re a pro. You have to adapt to the situation you’re put in. I’m trying to do everything I can to help the team. You gotta learn fast. You gotta learn quick. I think my teammates have been helping me out a lot. I’m just excited to try to fill my role. I gotta play a little bit better than I have. You come to a new team, they got their guys and they have guys that have proven themselves. So you have to slowly chip away and prove yourself and help the team anyway you can. My minutes are down so I gotta do other things that I’m usually not expected to do. You gotta block shots and trying to round my game to do all those things. 18,19,17 minutes I was playing there (Ottawa) it was a little bit hard to do all those things. But getting 10,11, you can finish every check. You can get on the forecheck hard.”
Duchene’s Been Here
Duchene knows these feelings. He knows you have to adjust no matter what is thrown at you.
“You gotta learn to play all different types in this league whether you’re playing what you like to play or whether you gotta adapt,” Duchene said.
Even the coaching staff has to adjust like the players do.
“It’s an adjustment for all of us. We’re a very deep team. It’s tough sometimes even for the coaching staff. I know they’re in there scratching their heads how do we get this team going offensively. They’re working through some too with us. It’s a tough job for them right now because they’re trying to figure out where everyone fits, how many minutes each guy.”
Is there confidence they’ll figure things out?
“I think our game has gone north since the Edmonton game and I think we’ve played better. Obviously three goals in the last four games isn’t the type of team we are. We’ll snap out of it. We just gotta keep working through it. Fortunately we’ve been able to grind out enough wins despite feeling this way. I can’t even imagine what’s it going to be like once we start scoring.”
Duchene, Dzingel and the rest of the Blue Jackets have 15 games left to make their stand for a playoff spot. As the days go by and more games are played, they are continuing to adjust to the way things are done in Columbus. For them to be able to do this is impressive given what all is going on in their lives at the same time.
While you were watching another game or getting frustrated with another loss, they were trying to figure their situations, family or otherwise. It takes time to get settled in and comfortable. Slowly but surely, they are working their way there.
And even despite everything happening on and off the ice, the Blue Jackets need just a win Saturday to climb back in a playoff spot. They’re close. Once the dam bursts, it’ll be interesting to see where this team with so much potential finally goes.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.