The Habs drafted Ryan O’Byrne in the third round of the 2003 draft, 79th overall, where he played for the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCJHL. Ryan has left the Clippers to attend the University of Cornell, one of the top teams in the NCAA, and is known for it’s strong academics, and excellent hockey program.
DL: How difficult has it been to adapt to the play of the NCAA vs the BCJHL?
RO: It’s a big change as the players are quicker, bigger and stronger, but it’s the different systems that are used that take time to understand. It’s both a mental and physical adjustment, but more mental then anything, as you are held accountable for your decisions on the ice.
DL: What were your impressions of the development camp/rookie tournament for the Habs this summer?
RO: It was a great experience. Ten days of hard work, but you got a chance to see the other players in the tournament, who are all skilled players, and some of them I may be competing against down the road. It was interesting with management in the stands, as they watched over the prospects, it was a little tough knowing they were up there.
DL: Did management give you any instructions on what they want you to work on for the future?
RO: They gave me a couple tips, but not too much. They gave me some tips to help with my strength and conditioning, but they said that didn’t want to interfere with the great program at Cornell, as they knew I would be well coached.
DL: What would you say are your main assets, what do you bring to the organization?
RO: Well I’m a big defensemen, I play a solid physical game, skate well, and make a good first pass. I like to use my size, while being able to help out in both ends of the rink, which is important.
DL: What was your reaction to being drafted by the Habs, and did you interview with them prior to the draft?
RO: It was a truly amazing experience. Just getting drafted by an NHL team was a real thrill, but to be drafted by a Canadien team, especially one with such a great history was the biggest moment in my hockey career. Yes I did interview with them, they were one of the first teams I met with.
DL: Is there someone in the NHL you try to play like?
RO: Well I would have to say Arron Miller. He played in the NCAA, has good size, skating, and plays a physical style of defense, which I try and play a similar type of defense.
DL: Why did you chose Cornell over other schools and what are you studying?
RO: I chose Cornell because of their athletics and their hockey program. It’s not a big school, but they have high standards of education, and a lot is expected of you, to meet the standards and do well. I am currently in Business school, with an undecided major, I just got done taking my finals for the semester.
DL: What type of workout program are you using?
RO: They have us work on our strength and conditioning, I work out two or three times a week during the season, and more in the off season. That’s the good thing about playing in the NCAA, you play less games, so you have a lot of time to spend working out.