BOSTON — Ryan Spooner opened some eyes in the Bruins' training camp, but it wasn't quite enough to earn a spot with the big club. At least not just yet.
Spooner was returned to his junior team, the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League, on Tuesday. The Bruins also assigned forward Jamie Arniel to their American Hockey League affiliate in Providence.
Spooner, a center taken in the second round of this June's draft, is just 18, but he has taken a mature approach throughout his first pro camp.
"I feel like I've had a great camp so far," said Spooner after Saturday's exhibition game against Florida. "I didn't expect to make it this far, that's for sure. I was really nervous when I first came here, but I kind of surprised myself with how I played. If I get sent back, I'm only going to take it as a learning experience, go back there, play good, solid hockey and come back next year even more prepared."
Spooner played in two preseason games, collecting an assist and finishing with four shots. He also had both Bruins goals, including the overtime winner, in the second rookie game against the Islanders at the Garden earlier this month. Those performances had Bruins coach Claude Julien gushing about him earlier in camp.
"He's one of those players that has really impressed me with the fact that he's got unbelievable hockey sense," said Julien last week. "Sometimes you get a player that has a lot of talent and a lot of skill, but the little details of the game, he still has to figure out. This player, to me, has already got it figured out. He's an extremely smart individual, and he does little things right now that sometimes it takes us 2-3 years to really teach one of our players at this level, and that's something he's really got going for him right now that is really impressive, to my eyes anyway. I'm not saying that means he's ready, but I'm saying that's something that's not always easy to teach, and that's sometimes what gives certain players the opportunity to be great players in this league."
Even before being released, Spooner knew he faced long odds to make the team this year, but he also knows he still has plenty of time to fulfill his NHL dreams.
"I'm not going to get too down on myself," said Spooner. "If I'm not here this year, I've got plenty of years ahead of me.
"This ride's been good," added Spooner. "I've taken lots of tips from it, especially on the defensive side of the game. If I go back to junior I'll just try to have a good year and come back next year and play even better."