Unlike Samson, Jim O’Brien’s strength does not come from his hair.
He just happened to grow it long the same summer he realized he had to work harder to salvage his hope of playing in the NHL.
“It was a six-day-a-week thing,” the Senators forward said of the off-season conditioning program that helped turn him into a bonafide prospect from a guy who many were writing off as a first-round bust.
“Every day, I had some type of lift or bike or run. I skated a lot more, I was just a lot more active,” he said. “I was just go, go, go.”
O’Brien and goalie Mike Brodeur were returned to Binghamton Sunday, but for the former, at least, that is likely just to play in the Baby Senators game against Charlotte.
Based on the raves of coach Cory Clouston, the 21-year-old O’Brien did enough impressing during his two games with the big club that he’ll be back when Ottawa practises at the Sensplex Monday morning.
“Very happy with his play,” said Clouston. “If you had asked me this question, where we were going to project him this time last year, I don’t think we would have guessed he was going to be at this level. Credit to him, he’s worked extremely hard over the summer.”
O’Brien worked just 6:57 of Friday’s game in Columbus and had three shots on goal. Against the Leafs Saturday, he played almost that much in the third period alone. He had 12:17 of ice time that included 1:46 on the power play. He had another three shots on goal and was a minus-1.
“It’s nice to get up here and see what it’s like,” said O’Brien. “I know I still have a lot of work to do to be the player I want to be. These two games here, it feels great to go out there and play. Makes me want more.”
O’Brien’s goal is to establish himself as a regular NHLer.
“I think I can build on this. I think I could be a good guy up here and help the team win games.”