COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — One player skating around at the Ohio State hockey practice seems bigger and more assured of himself.
He should. R.J. Umberger is an established top-six forward with the Columbus Blue Jackets who graduated after playing at Ohio State to become a solid contributor in the NHL.
These days, with the league and its locked-out players staring each other down over a new agreement, Umberger is biding his time, hoping for the best. Between workouts, he reports to the Buckeyes’ practices to serve as a volunteer coach.
He’s not the only one who misses the hits, checks and goals of the NHL season. Ohio State’s players grew up as NHL fans, some raised on the sport in Canada, and they all want the pros to play again. And soon.