Reinhart excited to be on Long Island
Griffin Reinhart may not have been able to practice right away with the New York Islanders, but he was just happy to experience being with an NHL club.
SYOSSET, N.Y. -- Griffin Reinhart was delighted to be at his first NHL development camp, just days after the New York Islanders made him the fourth player taken in the NHL Draft.
He'd have been even happier if his equipment had made the trip as quickly.
The 18-year-old son of former NHL defenseman Paul Reinhart had to spend his first day as an Islander watching everyone else take part in drills at IceWorks because his equipment was somewhere between Long Island and his home in North Vancouver, B.C. -- although given Reinhart's whirlwind schedule during the past week, Islanders coach Jack Capuano said giving the youngster a day off from on-ice workouts Tuesday wasn't such a bad idea.
"Talking to Griffin, he probably could use a break," Capuano said. "He's been going through a lot this weekend -- not only physically but mentally, it's a drain on a young kid."
But Reinhart would much rather have been skating than chatting with the media.
"It's a little bit frustrating," he said. "I haven't skated since the Memorial Cup and I wanted to get out there."
The equipment finally arrived in time for him to take part in Wednesday's workouts, and he'll be on the ice for Thursday night's camp-ending scrimmage.
"My gear finally arrived! Got to skate for the first time in Islanders equipment," Reinhart said on his Twitter account. "Felt awesome."
Reinhart was a big reason the Edmonton Oil Kings won the Western Hockey League playoffs and a berth in the Cup. The 6-foot-4, 206-pound teenager had 12 goals and 24 assists for Edmonton, and feels the playoff run will be a big boost to his development.
"I think it was huge," Reinhart said. "It gave me a lot of experience, playing in Game 7 of a championship final. There's nothing like that."
But that was against fellow teens and playing with guys he's familiar with. At the Isles' camp, he's one of the new kids among a group that's older and stronger than junior players.
"It's definitely a different experience, with the guys being a lot older and a lot bigger," he said of his first camp with an NHL team. "You go through the same kind of things in your first bantam camp; you have to meet a whole bunch of new guys. The concept is the same -- building relationships with different guys."
The Islanders are optimistic that Reinhart will be a big part of their future on defense -- though Reinhart said he didn't have a lot of dealings with them before Friday night's opening round.
"A little bit near the start, but not too much near the end," Reinhart said when asked how much contact he'd had with the team before he was chosen.
Reinhart and his two brothers -- Max is a Flames prospect and Sam is a 16-year-old with Kootenay in the WHL -- are following in their father's footsteps. Paul Reinhart, also a defenseman, was a first-round pick by the Atlanta Flames in 1979 and went on to play 11 seasons, nine with the Flames in Atlanta and Calgary. He put up 560 points in 648 NHL games before back problems forced him to retire at age 30.
Griffin Reinhart said having a father whose resume includes a lengthy NHL tenure has been an important factor in his career.
"He's been really big for me," Reinhart said. "Obviously he's gone through it all, and with the teaching aspect, he's been able to help with a lot of my game -- help me with my weaknesses but give me some praise as well."
As an 18-year-old, the odds are against Reinhart making the team at training camp this fall. But before he heads back to Western Canada this week, he's expecting to find out just what the Islanders expect of him before training camp begins in September.
"Right now I'm just trying to have fun," he said. "I'm sure I'll have a couple of meetings and sit down with people and try to figure things out. For now I'm just trying to enjoy it. I'll set some goals during the summer."
Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist