WHL star Ty Rattie's hard work is about to pay off
CALGARY - Like his namesake, he climbed aboard his mount.
Like his namesake, he rode hard till the horn blew.
Like his namesake, he ended up winning the event.
No one, though, can ever recall Ty Murray lurching into a quiet corner for a post-competition blowing of chunks.
But Ty Rattie - named after the legendary bull rider - admits that, after finishing first in the much-reviled Wingate test at the National Hockey League combine, he'd staggered off to a side room.
There - after those 30 torturous seconds aboard the stationary bike, away from the prying eyes of scouts, among other prospects in similar shape - Rattie and his lunch parted ways.
“You go into this tent (between tests) and everyone was throwing up . . . just the smell of it,” says the native of Airdrie, Alta., managing a grin. “It was gross. I don't know if I was sick because of the bike ride or just sick because everyone else was sick. Who knows?”
At the annual prospects hoedown in Toronto - a gathering of a hundred of the finest hockey-playing teenagers on the planet in advance of this weekend's NHL draft - you want to stand out. You want to catch an eye.
For the right reasons.
Rattie did that with his performance in the Wingate, a cruel measure of anaerobic leg power.
“I was surprised I won that,” says the Portland Winter Hawks star right-winger, who collected 79 points in 67 games this past winter with the Western Hockey League club. “But, at the same time, I'm happy. It was a hard one, that's for sure.”
Poking and prodding, in the days leading up to the fitness showcase, take place in meeting rooms. The 17th-ranked prospect by NHL Central Scouting was subjected to interviews from 28 of the 30 clubs.
“Pittsburgh and Dallas,” he says of the two holes in his dance card. “Dallas wasn't there for some reason. And I don't know about Pittsburgh - they don't like me for some reason, I guess.”
One request is an interview mainstay - outlining your own weaknesses.
Because it's the (skinny) elephant in the room, Rattie made sure he brought it up himself every time. His spare build.
“The weight's going to come - I told that to every scout,” says Rattie, who, on this day, is carrying 167 pounds on his six-foot-tall frame. “I'm not going to be 163 or something the rest of my life. One summer, it's just going to pile on. I'm going to put on 10, 15 pounds - just like that.
“I'm waiting for that summer and I'm working my ass off in the gym.”
The whole ordeal, rubbing elbows with big-league brass, did leave an impression on Rattie, who piled up 131 points, including 75 goals, in 33 games in major bantam.
“When you're a young kid, you dreamt about the NHL, but it was a far-fetched dream,” he says. “Now, I'm going to combines, NHL teams are talking about drafting me, so it's exciting. A surreal feeling.”
Friday night's proceedings will heap a special brand of tension on Rattie, who's a good bet to go in the first round.
Sporting his brand-new suit - “It's going to be on TV, so it's a nice one” - and surrounded by a dozen friends and family at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., the 18-year-old insists he's ready.
He won't have to imagine the scenario anymore.
“I've been thinking about that lately, laying in bed, about how the next team could call your name and you could be playing with them in the next couple of years,” says Rattie, favourably compared to Tyler Ennis - an undersized 21-year-old who scored 20 goals in his rookie season for the Buffalo Sabres. “An unbelievable feeling. It sends chills through my body just thinking about it.
“I don't care where I'm going - I just want to play in the NHL. I'm not that fussy.”
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