The lockout sucks; for owners, players and fans alike. Columbus Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger has decided to make lemonade out of lemons by helping as an Assistant Coach with the Ohio State Buckeyes’ Men’s Ice Hockey team.
Umberger played three seasons for the Buckeyes before being drafted 16th overall in 2001 by the Vancouver Canucks. His seven NHL seasons has seen him play for the Philadelphia Flyers as well as current team, the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is the first ex-Ohio State player to play with the Jackets, as well as the highest drafted Ohio State player. He will, until a season possibly starts, aid under Head Coach Mike Osiecki.
“With the NHL lockout in full force, I am looking forward to being more connected to the Ohio State hockey program once again,” Umberger said. “I’m excited to spend time on the ice with the players keeping myself in shape and hopefully offering any advice and help I can to them.”
Umberger is one of few hockey players that is possibly working towards a career after retirement from the NHL. Previously, not being able to finish his degree because of turning pro, Umberger persevered and earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing in the spring of 2011. Now, returning to his Alma Mater, he is getting his foot in the door for a potential coaching role in the future.
“Having an alum of R.J.’s stature around our program will be great,” said Osiecki, now in his third year with the Buckeyes. “As an All-American in college he knows what it takes to be successful at the collegiate level and he has carried that on to a successful professional career.
“For him to be able to share that with our players will really help their development.”
As all fans, it is unfortunate that the season is locked-out for the time being, if not for the season. In such sad times, it is nice to see good news like this, where a professional athlete doing what he can in light of the situation, is giving back to the community that helped him become what he is today.
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