There was a big of symmetry at work as Detroit Red Wings forward spent Friday morning discussing his new contract with the team. While he was moving on from his entry-level deal, hundreds of hungry, young hockey hopefuls will be anxiously waiting over the next two days for the chance to sign their first NHL contract.
The NHL entry draft is slated for July 24-25. By the end of the day Friday, 32 prospects will be able to call themselves NHL first-round draft picks. It was exactly four years ago that Rasmussen was provided the opportunity to do likewise.
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His evolution as a hockey player and a man has come a long way since that day. Even at the age of 22, the player selected ninth overall by the Wings in 2017 is well-positioned to offer sage advice to the members of the class of ’21.
Rasmussen’s words of wisdom? Be prepared to work and prepare to treat the game as if you were going to work. Soon, hockey won’t merely be something these young players do. It will be their life’s work.
“I think overall, how it’s an every day job,” is how Rasmussen advised this year’s draftees to approach hockey going forward. “Just to sum it up, it’s being a pro every day and working as hard as you can every day and just trying to be the best you can be every single day.”
Learning The Lessons Of Hockey Life
It wasn’t a fact of life that Rasmussen immediately grasped but he’s not alone in being slow on the uptake of such data. For most every wide-eyed rookie, that first taste of NHL life is an eye-opening experience.
“Overall, it’s just the consistency aspect of your hard work and dedication, whether it’s learning through video or being in the gym or practicing,” Rasmussen .
Ottawa Senators coach DJ Smith remembers how harshly the difference became apparent to him. He broke in as a rookie defenseman with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1997.
“It’s things like getting the right rest, eating right,” Smith listed as the traits of a true professional. “In junior, you sort of do what you want and just show up at game time.
“You’ve got to be disciplined up here. You’ve got to come ready to play.”
Rasmussen has come to grasp this reality as well.
“You can’t really take a day off mentally or physically,” Rasmussen said.
— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) April 4, 2021
He has three years as a pro under his belt. Rasmussen has spent all or part of each season with Detroit’s AHL farm club in Grand Rapids. Prior to the 2021 campaign, he made a decision to consciously alter his mental approach to the game.
“This year I took a mindset that maybe tomorrow I won’t have a job, or maybe today I won’t play as much as last night,” Rasmussen said.
Accepting that nothing will be given to them is often a shock to incoming amateur stars. The majority have basically been the best player on their teams all the way up the development ladder.
“You don’t really know those things until you kind of get thrown into the fire a little bit,” Rasmussen admitted. “That is what I didn’t know.”