If you ever want to talk to Ryan O'Reilly after a hockey practice, be prepared to wait. In the past, when other Colorado Avalanche players were already on the way to their cars in the parking lot after practice, O'Reilly was often still on the ice.
When Kevin Shattenkirk was still with the Avalanche, sometimes he would aid O'Reilly in a drill the young center dreamed up. Or just watch out of curiosity.
"He's on the ice an extra, at least, half-hour every day," Shattenkirk said. "Working on the weirdest things."
"In the slot, he would sauce a puck at the net, take another [puck] and try to shoot it out of the air with another puck," he said. "He'd have two pucks going."
In another post-practice drill session, O'Reilly would have Shattenkirk fire pucks in the air at him so he could knock them down and try to get off a quick shot. Over and over and over.
"It's just little skills like that you never even think to work on," Shattenkirk said. "He does it every day. For that reason, he's pretty mature beyond his years."
When you talk to former teammates about O'Reilly's worth as his holdout now drags into the second quarter of the season, they explain that it goes beyond the 55 points he put up in 2011-12, his best season. It's the tireless work ethic to improve, along with being beloved in the dressing room, mixed in with a growing offensive stature and strong two-way game. Along with his on-ice production, it's a combination that should now make the 22-year-old highly desirable on the trade market.
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