The Blueshirts signed him to his first contract on May 2, so with college in the rear-view mirror and his first true test at an NHL training camp coming up, Fox is in Kosice both to help Team USA and to get ready for a chance at a pro career.
“It didn’t matter to me [about the trades],” he said casually. “Every time something happened, I still had to go back to school. I was a part of those organizations for a bit but never played. They were good to me with development camps, and they had guys who’d keep in touch with me. I was thankful for that, but it never changed anything. I just focused on my team at college. But to be with the Rangers now is pretty exciting going forward.”
Fox isn’t a household name in the hockey world just yet, but he’s certainly well known to USA Hockey and has a rich international pedigree. He played two years with the vaunted USNTDP. It was during this time that he won a bronze medal with the U18 team in 2016, and he was named IIHF Directorate Best Defenceman to boot.
After his time with USA Hockey’s development program, Fox attended Harvard University, playing with the Crimson for three years. During these years he went on to win gold and bronze at the 2017 and 2018 World Juniors, respectively.
His call to the senior team for these World Championships might seem like a surprise to the outside world, but not in American hockey circles.
“I thought I was on the map a little bit, but obviously you never know,” Fox continued. “There are so many great players who come to this event and have the ability. Just to be here with a star-studded group is pretty special.”
It was team GM Chris Drury who spoke to Fox’s agent and let him know that they were going to offer him a spot if he wanted it. He jumped at the chance.
“It was a nice call, for sure,” Fox said. “There are a lot of great players here, and the defence is pretty solid, so I’m just doing what I can to help out. I play a bit more of an offensive game, and out here it’s the big ice, so I try to create some things. But I’m not going to take too many chances, just play within my means.”
The big ice for forwards is often a joy; not so much for the defencmen. As a blueliner who likes to skate with the puck, however, Fox sees it both ways.
“There are pros and cons. For me, having a little more time is nice, but it can also slow the game down a bit when you want to push it up. Of course, there’s more time and space for the forwards on the other team, so that makes it more difficult. But I like the big ice. It’s a little different, and having to make those adjustments is a good thing.”
On a personal level, Fox is trying to absorb all he can from his high-class teammates like Patrick Kane and Jack Eichel, seeing how they live the hockey life and respect the game.
“It’s the focus,” Fox enthused. “It’s a lot of games in a short period of time here, which is like the NHL. The college schedule is two games a week, and you have all week to prepare for those. Here, it’s a quick turnaround. The way they handle it every day, keeping their bodies in shape, getting ready for the next game, is something I can learn from.”
And he hopes to parlay that learning into a roster spot at Rangers’ camp in September. “I’m definitely hoping to make the team,” he said. “I think being here is definitely a good start, being around NHL guys and that pace and how the guys take care of themselves every day. It’s a good experience for me and will give me a bit of head start when I’m at training camp.”