Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 4/5/13
Chapter TwoWhen last we left Dalton Prout, the Columbus Blue Jacketsrookie defenseman had jumped out of a cab into his first NHL game of theseason. You may remember the story. It was March 1st, and Prout hadreceived word hed been recalled by the Blue Jackets, who were about to play inChicago against the hottest team in the league.After his inbound plane went to the wrong gate at theairport in Hartford, CT, the trip became part panic, part anticipation forProut. Once he finally arrived inChicago, he had to cajole his way to the front of the taxi line, but the angstdidnt stop there. When the taxi pulledup to the United Center, the player entrance was blocked by two largeSUVs. While Prout was trying toconvince security he really was a player late for the game, Todd Richardscalled him. The head coach of the BlueJackets told the young d-man to get into the arena and forget paying for thecab or dragging his equipment with him; they were both being handled by theteam.Before the end of the first period, Prout finally joined theteam for that game in Chicago, playing nearly nine very composed minutes in anovertime loss.So, how has the plot turned since that eventful travel dayfor the native of Ontario? Its turnedinto one of the most compelling stories in the NHL, actually. In the 16 games following his 2013 debut inChicago, Prouts time on ice has more than doubled, to just over 18 minutes agame. Hes been an even- or plus- playerin 16 of his 17 games played this season, including a 4 in Calgary on March 29ththat set an all-time record for Blue Jackets rookies.Most importantly, in his 17 games with the team, Columbushas gone 11-2-4 with Dalton Prout patrolling the back line. Certainly, a ton of that credit goes to thegoaltending work of Sergei Bobrovsky and the teams collective effort ingeneral. But make no mistake: Prout has had a major impact on the BlueJackets since he arrived under such harried circumstances. And hes still trying to catch his breath.Its been a whirlwind the whole time, he admitted. I havent been able to catch my breath, butI finally feel a little bit settled in.Obviously, day by day, you feel a little bit more like part of the team,and the best part is the team has had success, so its been nice to be a partof.With a blend of toughness, hockey sense, strong skating, anda real commitment in his own zone, the former 6th-round pick of theBlue Jackets in the 2008 draft has quickly earned the trust of the Columbuscoaching staff. He plays heavy, criticalminutes for the team and has done that since his first few games. Was he surprised to be getting those types ofminutes so early in his second stint in the NHL?Yeah, the first time I was in that situation it was alittle bit surprising, but you have to take it in stride at the same time andrealize its still hockey, and I still have to do my job, he said. So the execution is the same as it is in thebeginning of the game. Every point ofthe game is important when Im out there.When asked the best way to earn a coachs trust, Prout saidit goes beyond performance on the ice.I think theres no one answer, one defining moment that youcan gain a coachs trust. I think itsdeveloped over time through many things, such as your play on the ice, yourcommunication off the ice, having the same perspectives on the game, being ableto manage the game at certain points. Incrucial situations, you want to have the same mindset as the coach, so he knowswhat hes going to get out of you when puts you out there.One of the reasons Prout has had such a positive impact inhis second go-round with the Blue Jackets is because he has managedexpectations for this call-up. Heskeeping everything simple.You know, honestly, one of the things I learned was to comeup here without expectations and just kind of go about your business as ahockey player. Do the things you thinkyou need to do to be successful, little things from preparing yourself tokeeping the same game that got you here.So, no expectations, but hard work.Between the success he enjoyed with Springfield earlier thisseason and the playoff race hes involved in now, its been a rewarding seasonfor the 23-year-old Prout.Its really fun.Ive been on both ends; Ive been on a rebuilding junior team and ajunior team that was ranked number one in the country, he said. When youve been on a rebuilding team youcan appreciate winning that much more.And the mood is just better.Everything comes just a little bit easier. Weve had some puck luck; weve had big goalsat critical times and great efforts. Itseems every night someone different steps up.At this moment, chapter threeof the Dalton Prout 2013 story is being written, by him and his teammates. If this group crosses the playoff line by theend of the season, this story could well be a bestseller.
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