Eberle the veteran rookie
By Joanne Ireland, Postmedia News; Edmonton Journal
September 11, 2010
The questions came fast and furious.
What will be the toughest test at the rookie exam? Will the Edmonton Oilers brass be watching? Do you want to go for a cheeseburger when it is all over?
"He was asking me a ton of questions last night," said Jordan Eberle after he and Taylor Hall emerged from fitness testing along with 27 other Oilers rookies on Friday.
"He wanted to know what it was going to be like. The Wingate (anaerobic test) is probably the toughest one. You get off after 30 seconds feeling like you're going to puke and then there's the VO2. It gets progressively tougher, but I've done it a ton of times. It's getting easier and easier the more I do it."
With the tests mercifully out of the way, the rookies will practise today in Kelowna, B.C., and then head to Penticton for a prospects tournament. Rookies from the Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks are also taking part in the competition.
The Oilers' main training camp opens this time next week, and both Hall and Eberle will be among the select group of rookies who will move on.
"I've never done those tests before," said Hall. "It's really hard when you're doing it, but I feel fine now. The main thing is I pushed my hardest. That's probably what they want to see more than the results. ... It's definitely starting to seep in.
"You know you're in the NHL when you walk up for pictures and there's a hairdresser waiting to cut your hair. It's been a fun ride so far."
Hall said he's put on nine pounds since the Oilers selected him first overall in June -- all of it muscle -- and, as a result, he feels stronger and more mature.
Eberle, too, is ready to roll. He and Hall will room together in Penticton.
"I know, on the bench, he took me to town. Other than that, I'm not sure how I did," Hall said.
"The fun begins now. I can't wait to get on the ice," said Eberle, who has taken on the role of elder statesman at this gathering of rookies.
This is Eberle's third training camp since he was drafted 22nd overall in 2008.
"I feel a lot older at this camp. I feel like a wily veteran at rookie camp," Eberle continued. "There's a lot of guys who are first-years, including Hallsie, and they're a little nervous. It's nice to be the guy they come up to to ask questions."
Quicker and heavier than he was last season, Eberle will have to fall a long way before he drops off the roster this time around. A late cut last year, he parlayed that disappointment into another banner season -- first with the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League, then with Canada's junior team, and finally with appearances in the American Hockey League and the world championship.
"I felt like I was ready last year. This year, I want to earn a spot and go running into the season. Hallsie and I were talking and we don't want to be guys who just drift into a spot and not earn it."
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