ZURICH - Five months ago it was Banff in the Canadian Rockies, not here in the Swiss Alps.
Five months ago, Ryan Murray was at his first world championship pre-tournament camp with Team Canada. The one for the juniors.
All the other guys were draft picks; 12 of them were first rounders.
The kid from White City, Sask., was an 18-year-old among 19-year-olds, the only player heading to the world junior championships in Edmonton and Calgary who wasn’t draft eligible, the only one who didn’t have an NHL team listed by his name on the roster.
Now he’s here, surrounded by high-profile NHL stars whose teams made early exits from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
He’s here as something of an extra, filling a spot in the lineup as Team Canada prepares for the real world hockey championship, the IIHF tournament — for the men, not the one for the boys.
Sunday, 130 kms south of here in Fribourg, the Everett Silvertips defenceman will be on the ice with the likes of Corey Perry, John Tavares, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Dion Phaneuf, Jordan Eberle, Jeff Skinner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, playing against Switzerland.
Watching will be Team Canada GM Kevin Lowe, president of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers and owner of the first pick in the upcoming NHL draft.
He’s here to get an up close and personal chance to evaluate Murray. Behind the bench will be the rumoured next coach of the Oilers, Brent Sutter.
“Did you see him?” Lowe said of Murray’s workout with Team Canada on Saturday.
“Just from one practice, it was obvious he doesn’t look at all out of place. He was very composed out there.
“I think we need to think of taking him to Helsinki. We wouldn’t have to put him on the roster, but we’d have him right with us if we needed him. His agent says he can stay as long as we want him.”
First things first, and that’s watching him play Sunday with P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens as his defence partner.
“It’s pretty unreal,” Murray said after practice, talking about being asked to fill a pre-tournament spot for late-arriving players.
“It’s pretty fantastic to be on the same ice, on the same bus, staying in the same hotel with them ... everything.
“And I’m not expecting anything,” he said of possibly being held over for Helsinki like Jordan Eberle was for Canada in the same situation at the 2010 tournament in Germany — before he’d played his first NHL game.
Heck, it was all positive before Murray even got here.
“I spent a week in Vancouver on the ice with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins,” he said of the Oilers rookie who isn’t that much younger, both having been born in 1993 (RNH on April 19 and Murray on Sept. 27).
“I think he’s really excited,” Murray said of The Nuge. “And I think he’s going to do very well.”
Murray said having this experience after the one with the world junior team is mind-boggling.
“In Banff, I was with guys who were all a little more experienced because they’d been through NHL training camps. But I wasn’t intimidated by that. I took the approach of looking to show them that I belonged.”
And how are the 1,113 citizens of White City taking all of this?
“My friends keep me sort of posted,” said Murray. “I know my dad and my whole family are pretty excited by this and everything that’s been happening to me.
“I’m not even thinking about the draft; that’s out of my control.
“The world juniors was a great experience. It was pretty cool and incredible to play in that at home. It was disappointing not to win, but what an amazing event to have been able to be part of.”
This one isn’t too shabby, either.
“I was pretty nervous coming in. It’s just so cool being around these guys. It’s been a pretty amazing year.”