Sometimes in junior hockey, the focus on how trade deadline moves boost a contender or help a team who's playing for the next season overshadows the assets trading hands are teenagers. The 17-year-old Urbanic was not the only Ontario Hockey Leaguer to wake up a member of one team and turn in as a member of another. However, he had quite the impromptu itinerary. After being traded from the Oshawa Generals to the Ottawa 67's, Urbanic had to pack and make a nearly four-hour drive to play immediately — for the 67's against the Generals at Scotiabank Place. The Overland Park, Kansas, resident reported at 6:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. puckdrop.
"I just came in right after warmups," related Urbanic, who nearly scored on his first shift. "I was getting dressed while the guys were on the ice. I was lucky to start the game on time.
"It was kind of funny. I ate my lunch with the Generals and after lunch they'd told me I had been traded. So I came on over here."
Urbanic said came on over here the same way a retiree would explain her/his decision to amble over to Tim Hortons for a mid-afternoon coffee. In his case, he was referring to loading up his car in Oshawa and hitting the highway. As softly as he said it, it spoke pretty loudly about how eager a player is to get a clean slate with a new team.
"I definitely wanted to get in as fast as I could," he said. "It was definitely a weird situation playing my old team but definitely worth it to get my feet wet ... I tried to put it out of my head that it was my old team and just focus."
This was one instance where the 67's relocation at Scotiabank Place while the Ottawa Civic Centre and the adjoining Lansdowne Park football stadium are being renovated has worked in their favour. Urbanic would have been even more hard-pressed to make the game if he had to navigate through city traffic, instead of getting off Hwy. 17 in Kanata.
The 67's, who are tied for dead last in the OHL, are in a full-on rebuild. Urbanic had two assists in 33 games with the Generals as a role player who was scrapping for ice time on a veteran team. In Ottawa, the second-generation OHLer — his father, also named John, played four seasons with the Windsor Spitfires — has a chance to better established himself as a grinder.
"Urbanic skates well and he plays a real hard game," coach-GM Chris Byrne said. "And I thought that was a good for him coming in under some tough circumstances and playing a good game."
It was a game effort for a young player who had scarcely little time to even shake hands with his new teammates. To an outsider, it might have seemed wild that Urbanic went right into lineup without even getting to practise with Ottawa. Then again, as one observer joked prior to his arrival, "systems are systems" — a player will either pick it up or he won't. Hockey prizes someone being endlessly adaptable. By the night's end, Urbanic felt like he was where he should be.
"It seems like it's a a real nice program, a real nice organization," he said. "Everyone seems friendly. From what I've seen it seems like we have a good young team coming up. Maybe by the end of this year we'll start putting it together."
— with files from Alex Quevillon (@aquevillon)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.