It ‘really did bother’ Bennett after pull-up story ‘went crazy’

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NEW YORK — Sam Bennett could’ve lied and said it didn’t bug him. He could’ve just played it cool. But the talented 17-year-old forward who’s expected to be among the top picks at this summer’s NHL Entry Draft had to be truthful after his failure to do a single pull-up at the scouting combine made headlines across the hockey world.

“To be honest, it really did bother me,” Bennett told a handful of reporters at a New York hotel Monday. “Because I know I can do them now. I’m going to keep working on it. By the end of the summer, I want to rip off as many as I can, and just prove people wrong.”

Bennett said he’s been working on pull-ups since the combine, and “can already do at least two.”

However, it wasn’t hard to tell the whole experience has been embarrassing for the Kingston Frontenacs star.

“I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal (after the combine), until the next couple of days when it went crazy,” he said.

As the story blew up, Bennett received words of encouragement from a number of people, including Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators.

“I don’t even really know him at all; he trains at my gym,” said Bennett. “He was just, ‘I gotta call this kid, because I feel so bad for him.’ He just talked about how he’s been through a lot of criticism. You’ve got to find a way to deal with it, because it’s going to be there your whole hockey career.”

Bennett doesn’t expect his performance at the combine to affect his draft status.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter about pull-ups,” he said. “It’s your performance on the ice.”