Flying under the radar at the start of the 2010-11 campaign, Didier found himself listed No.198 on Central Scouting’s mid-term ranking list. By April, the 18-year-old blue-liner had skyrocketed up the charts to No. 108 before being drafted 97th overall by the Canadiens this June.
“At the beginning it took me a few games just to get used to the speed and the timing of the game because it was my first year in the USHL, but after that things got a lot easier,” explained Didier, who finished his rookie season with eight goals and 21 points in 52 games. “I had a good year and developed a lot in Cedar Rapids.
“I learned a lot in terms of things I needed to get better at on the ice and off the ice, too,” he added. “I was taking courses while I was there so I could graduate high school and those helped prepared me for college hockey in terms of how to balance hockey and school and do well at both.”
His apprenticeship in Cedar Rapids went so well, in fact, that Denver decided to accelerate the learning process to get him on campus earlier than expected.
“I was actually supposed to stay and play another year in the USHL but Denver lost some guys and the coaches liked my development over the year and they think I’m ready to step in next year as a true freshman,” explained Didier, who will major in Business. “I’m really excited to get started. It will be another transition because I’ll be playing against some older guys, but I’m working on putting on more muscle and getting bigger and stronger so I’m ready to step in next fall.”
The 6-foot-2 blue-liner isn’t the only one counting the days until the Pioneers’ training camp kicks off this September.
“My parents are really excited that I’m coming to Denver next year because Cedar Rapids is about a 12 hour drive for them so they couldn’t come see me play that often, but DU is about 30 minutes from home,” shared the Littleton, CO native. “They already have their season tickets for next year!”
In the meantime, the defensive-defenseman is focused on expediting the learning process before he arrives on campus.
“I’m a stay at home defenseman and my favorite thing to do is block shots and kill penalties, but I’ve been trying to develop the offensive part of my game to become a more complete player,” explained Didier, who was a plus-5 in Cedar Rapids last season. “I’m going in with the mindset that I want to earn the ice time I get and I’ll have to battle my way into the lineup.
“One of the biggest things we did these last couple of days was work on skating and get back to basics to make sure we’re more efficient skaters,” he added. “You can never work on things enough; you always have to keep working on those little details. I had no idea what to expect. You come in and you have a Canadiens jersey at your stall and your name on a plaque with the logo on it – it’s pretty exciting. It’s been a great experience coming here and I learned a lot these last couple of days that I’ll be able to take home with me and apply to my game next year at Denver.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
12 players to take part in the second part of the Development Camp