By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Before last weekend’s NHL draft, Austin Madaisky was more concerned with the where than the when.
Oh, the Kamloops Blazers defenceman would have loved to have been a first-round selection, but he knew that wasn’t likely to happen. Which is why he was enjoying the tail-end of a week on the Mayan Riviera with his family when the Columbus Blue Jackets selected him with the fourth pick of the fifth round on Saturday.
And that suited Madaisky just fine.
The Blue Jackets, it seems, are in need of defencemen — Madaisky was one of three taken by Columbus on the weekend.
“It seems like a great opportunity in Columbus,” said Madaisky, who admitted to not knowing anyone on the Blue Jackets’ roster, although he and Portland Winterhawks forward Ryan Johansen, taken fourth overall by Columbus, are good friends.
While in Mexico, Madaisky tried to follow the draft at nhl.com where a ticker was running across the top of the home page. But the website stalled during the fourth round. And it wasn’t until “texts started flying in” that he learned he had been drafted by Columbus.
Madaisky was pretty much in a communications blackout, so he didn’t even speak with anyone from the Blue Jackets until Monday when Don Boyd, the club’s director of hockey operations and player personnel, finally tracked him down.
Prior to their conversation, Madaisky was anticipating leaving for their prospects’ camp in a week or 10 days.
Those plans changed when Boyd told him he was booked on a flight out of Vancouver this morning. The Blue Jackets are bringing in prospects from the last three years for something of a meet-and-greet, giving everyone a chance to get involved with the organization.
Madaisky had planned on getting back in the gym, starting yesterday, but those plans changed with the news that he would be heading for Columbus today.
Still, he plans on training “my (butt) off.”
“I have been since Day 1 of summer but it’s a whole other level now,” he added.
Madaisky, 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, said he needs to focus on “strength, skating and overall skills . . . I guess a little bit of everything.”
At the same time, he said, being drafted doesn’t change his mindset at all.
“No. Not really,” he stated. “It’s part of the process. It’s just one step at a time.”
And while he is working out he will be thinking ahead to the upcoming season. He is especially looking forward to his third WHL season because for the first time he won’t start out as a fringe player.
Acquired from the Calgary Hitmen in January, Madaisky blossomed with added ice time and responsibility and was the Blazers’ best player in the playoffs.
“I feel that I should play a pretty big role on the team but I’m also excited because I think the team in general is going to be a lot better,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot more experience. We’ve got (Corey Fienhage) coming in . . . everything is looking pretty good right now.”
Fienhage, a third-round selection by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2008 draft, is leaving the U of North Dakota Fighting Sioux to join the Blazers.