While everyone in hockey would like to see an end to the NHL lockout, the work stoppage hasn't been such a bad thing for everyone, particularly for a guy like Hershey's Cameron Schilling.
Schilling, scooped up by the Caps earlier this year and thrown straight onto the Bears blue line, set the bar high last spring thanks to a seamless transition from college to the pros. After revealing his offensive side in Hershey's short-lived Cup run, where he scored two goals in four games, Schilling appeared to be a name we might have seen on the back of a Capitals sweater this season. The lockout has put that dream on hold, but Schilling has had the chance to settle into the world of professional hockey a bit more this season.
"It's good being able to start [with the Bears] from the beginning rather than being thrown in from two different style of games," Schilling said after an AHL exhibition game in Washington. "It's nice to be able to start off in Hershey and take everything in and learn from guys. We have some older guys with NHL experience to it's nice to be able to learn from them."
In addition to learning from vets around him, the 23-year-old Miami of Ohio product has also benefitted from playing in a league stocked with top young players.
"The American League is really good with all the talent that's come down from the NHL so you can't take a night off," said Schilling.
Schilling describes himself as a defensive defenseman with an offensive upside, but his offensive game has yet to really show itself so far this season. The blueliner has scored twice and assisted just four times in 22 games.
"It's been up and down for him," said Bears head coach Mark French, who compared Schilling to Karl Alzner earlier this summer. "As of late he's played a little bit better. You know, expectations are a funny thing. He comes in to join us at the end of last year with probably no expectations put on him- he's coming from college, he probably didn't even know if he'd be in the lineup most nights and everything that happened for him was probably gravy at that point in time.
"Then because he played so well the expectations grew and they grew over the summer and I think that he's dealing with that weight now and his expectations are to be an NHL player. We've seen all the same things that we saw last year but like every young player, consistency is usually the last thing to round into their game and that's the same for Cameron."