Daily News Sports Editor
Austin Madaisky learned how to use a meat thermometer last week.
The Kamloops Blazers defenceman also found out that he has made awfully good progress from the broken neck that ended his 2010-11 WHL season.
Madaisky, a 19-year-old from Surrey, spent the week at the Columbus Blue Jackets’ development camp. He was a fifth-round selection, 124th overall, in the NHL’s 2010 draft.
However, his most recent season came crashing to an end on Feb. 4 when Chilliwack Bruins defenceman Brandon Manning spun him and sent him back first into the boards at Interior Savings Centre. Madaisky was diagnosed with a C-7 fracture (a fractured vertebrae) and missed the season’s last 16 games. Manning was hit with a seven-game suspension.
Madaisky spent some time in an Aspen Cervical Collar, but was able to avoid surgery. He returned to skating in May and said he was feeling great heading into the Columbus camp.
He was feeling even better when it was over.
“In my exit interview,” Madaisky said Monday, “they said they were really happy with me. They said I took a step forward from last season. They were amazed at how far I came considering the injury, so they were happy.
“I thought I went in there and, on any given day, I felt I was one of the better defencemen in camp. I was feeling really good about myself.”
What really had Madaisky feeling good was the fitness testing. Going into the camp, everyone in the organization had been told that the Blue Jackets are moving in a new direction and that, according to Madaisky, one of the goals “is to be the fittest team in the league.”
And when the fitness testing at camp was done and the statistics had been compiled, Madaisky was thrilled to find out that “they said I have gotten back to where I was last year or even better. I have definitely made up a lot of ground.”
Madaisky was especially excited to be involved in physical contact again for the first time since he was injured. He admitted to being a bit apprehensive “in the first skate.”
But, he added, “it was good. Everything was fine. I was throwing a few good bodychecks. I got hit a few times. Everything felt stable which was nice to see.
“We had a full game on the last day (Saturday) and there was no nerves or anything like that. I felt awesome.”
As for the meat thermometer, the Blue Jackets spent some time talking nutrition with their prospects, even going so far as to take them into a kitchen and have experts provide them with some pointers involving cooking.
Asked if he really learned to use a meat thermometer, Madaisky replied: “I sure did.”
Then he laughed and added: “I’ll be cooking chicken and salmon every night now.”
As one might expect when a group of mostly teenagers is turned loose in a kitchen, there was the odd, uhh, moment.
Like when one European player tried cooking chicken.
“After handling raw chicken, he started licking his fingers,” a chuckling Madaisky said. “Everyone was, ‘What are you doing?’
“It was pretty funny.”
And now it’s off to Whistler for a few days of R and R.
As he said, the Columbus camp “was really good. It was a lot of fun but, at the same time, it was probably the toughest seven days of my summer so far.”
The result is that he is pretty sore and feeling run down. But, come Friday, he’ll be right back at it.
JUST NOTES: Kamloops F Dylan Willick has accepted an invitation to the Minnesota Wild’s development camp that is to open Monday. Blazers D Josh Caron, who signed with the Wild as a free agent last summer, also will attend. . . . Blazers F Colin Smith is in the Edmonton Oilers’ development camp that began yesterday. . . . Neither Willick nor Smith was selected in the 2011 NHL draft. . . . Kamloops F Brendan Ranford will be in the Philadelphia Flyers’ development camp later this week. He was a seventh-round selection in the 2010 NHL draft. . . . F Thomas Frazee, who finished up his five-season WHL career with the Blazers after being acquired from the Regina Pats last season, will attend the Washington Capitals’ development camp later this month. . . . The Blazers dropped G John Keeney, 18, from their protected list last week. Keeney, who is from Twin Peaks, Calif., had been on the list since September 2008. He has played the last two seasons with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers and is likely to return there. After the Blazers dropped him, the Red Deer Rebels expressed interest in listing him.
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