Thursday was a day off and a pretty light day at the rink. We had an optional skate and I think most of the guys opted to stay off the ice to get some maintenance, play some soccer and just kind of hang out and recharge.
When we're on the road, practices are always later in the day, normally in the afternoon. Obviously, the home team gets the earlier ice time. Yesterday our practice was scheduled for 2 p.m., so we got to the rink at about 1 p.m. Normally, with practice, it would be a light practice -- a quick on and off.
When we got to the rink, we played some soccer outside the dressing room, did some stretching, some guys went and got ice -- whatever guys had to do get themselves ready.
TORONTO -- Mikhail Grigorenko sat out the fitness testing of the Scouting Combine while he continues to recover from a bout of mononucleosis. However, he assured NHL decision-makers he would be 100 percent before teams are scheduled to report to training camps in September. In fact, the Quebec Remparts center said he'd be ready to go by the time teams hold summer rookie camps.
"Mini-camp will be in two months or something, so I'll be ready," he said. "In a few days I will start to train, so I have all summer to train."
Grigorenko said he didn't even know he was sick until after the Remparts lost to the Halifax Mooseheads in the quarterfinals of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. He had 10 points in 11 games, but just three goals, leading some to question his work ethic.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer has a lot of unique ties to the Kings.
For instance, Mike Richards played for him when he was the head coach of the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League. DeBoer is close with Brent Sutter, the former Devils coach who is also one of the younger brothers of Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
The one that flies under the radar is his previous relationship with Kings forward Justin Williams, who played for DeBoer when he was the head coach of the OHL's Plymouth Whalers.
DeBoer was asked about Williams on Friday. He relayed the story of how he met him and why he has the utmost respect for Williams.
"I drafted him in the sixth round out of Junior C in, I believe, Cobourg, Ont., which is outside Belleville," DeBoer said. "Kid came in and didn't make our team the first year. We put him down on the Tier 2 team. He just kept hanging around. You could tell he was a good hockey player, but was about 150 pounds. He had a great heart.
"Next year, he came back to camp, played for one year for me, was a first-round pick, (and I) never saw him again. He stepped right into Philadelphia. Great story of perseverance. I've got a lot of time for Justin."
Matt Dumba is a defenseman for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. The 5-foot-11.75, 183-pound defenseman was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. He also had a tournament-high 12 points -- all assists -- to help Canada Pacific win the bronze medal at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This summer, he played for Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and also took part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Dumba has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
When I first arrived in Toronto for the Scouting Combine, I was real nervous. Everything that I heard from everyone, I was pretty scared about the interviews. I didn't know what they were going to ask. But after the first couple I got some confidence, and I thought they really went well. I'm a pretty good speaker, so they just went smooth for me.
I had 19 interviews altogether, but I remember starting the first and being real nervous. As I went on, though, it got better and better and I got more relaxed and more confident as I went through.
I didn't get any strange questions -- nothing at all. Everyone else said they had something, but not me.
The fitness testing was a totally different experience. I looked in the testing room and I'd never seen something like that before. I had kind of heard stories and everything, but it was really cool, how it's all set up, how everyone is watching, critiquing you -- kind of nervous and scary at the same time. Once you get into the testing, and I started doing my thing, it was all good.
It's intimidating, for sure, but as you get comfortable in your own skin and taking off your shirt and stuff, it's good. I knew I was prepared for it all and I knew I was going to fare well on all the tests. I was happy with that.
I thought I did good on the vertical leap and especially the long jump -- I almost jumped off the mat there. And the pushups, I did really well on that.
The bikes tests were really tough. We bike a little in Red Deer at my gym in the summer, but we never did that. It's not a part of that. I'm not sure how they correlate to hockey, but I know what scouts are looking for -- how you battle and compete. I just wanted to go on there and do my best in that and give everything I have.
The Wingate test was first and it's tough. You've got to definitely focus in for those full 35 seconds. And it really is 35 -- you start and they say faster, faster and then you go and you've got to hit that for 30 seconds. I was good. I don't think I dropped off too much. I really pushed through. Wingate was one of my stronger ones.
The VO2 was next and I had done that at my gym before, but nothing like this. That was tough. I really put everything into it. At one point I think I blacked out. I didn't even know what I was doing -- I was just going. I don't know what happened, just the animal inside took over. It was good, though.
I'm done now, and it was a really good week. I'm happy I did this.
NEWARK, N.J. --Jonathan Quick is not in the Devils heads. At least, he isn't in their heads as of yet.
After further dissection of their 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1, the Devils haven't backed down from their feeling that despite generating only 18 shots on goal they still had plenty of Grade A scoring chances against the Kings' goalie, a leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
"The opportunities were there," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "A lot of times we missed the net on some wide-open nets. The rebounds were there. We don't need to change, but we have to be better at the things we were doing."
There were also times, Parise said, that Quick was out of position.
For instance, he wasn't even close when Mark Fayne had a wide-open look at the net midway through the third period, only to have the bouncing puck flutter off his stick and go wide right. Quick was caught at the upper lip of his blue paint.
Before Parise was caught putting the puck into the net with his hand, he missed on a chance that came with Quick out of position, about two feet above the blue paint.
"He's an aggressive goalie, he challenges the shooters, so if we can get some guys in position to get the rebounds I think we're going to get opportunities like that," Parise said. "We've just got to put them in."
Hi all. Well, the NHL Scouting Combine is over for me.
I had a weird dream last night about NTDP defenseman Pat Sieloff hitting some guy in the head with a baseball bat. That's a true story, and I don't know how it happened, but I lost a little sleep over that. I woke up and ate a little breakfast before coming over [to the Toronto International Centre] and was a bit nervous. When you get here and can hear them yelling by the bike test, my blood pressure was probably a little higher than it should have been.
I think while I was in the early stages of the testing, I tried to focus on what I was doing and try to block everything else out. There are a lot of people watching you so I was just trying to do what I could. I thought doing the bench press right after push-ups was probably the toughest thing. I had to do push-ups, to vertical jump and right to bench, so I was a little fatigued.
I did some of these exercises at the NTDP, but I'm not smart to do all the conversions in my head. Some are easier than others, but they don't really give you answers while you're taking the test.
When it came to the Wingate test, I just got up on the bike and looked around and took everything in. It was cool with everything hanging up, and then I started pedaling and they're screaming at you and you just have to keep going. I think that was a pretty tough test coming in because you're just cold. Right after, I was dead. I wasn't really pedaling for the last five seconds. Personally, I didn't think having a guy screaming at me to motivate me to keep going didn't really help. I'm not really a guy who needs to get angry; I'm more of a guy who can focus and be calm. But it's something you're going to have to deal with playing in buildings with 20,000-plus people, so might as well get used to it.
After that test, I had a 20-minute break and sat in a room and was just dead tired. But it was tough because you knew you had to do another grueling thing and that was the toughest part of the whole day -- knowing I had to do another bike test [VO2 Max]. Once you're out of there, though, you just know you have to keep pedaling. That's all you're really doing. I thought the end of the VO2 was harder than the Wingate, but the beginning was easier because you got to build your way up, so I think it was easier on the legs and on the lungs. But in the end, you're totally empty.
Overall, it was a memory I'll take with me forever. In between bike tests, I was sitting in the room with Ryan Murray and we were both tired and talking to each other saying, 'What are we doing?' That was pretty cool because that was the first time I ever met him and it's nice to get to know everybody you're going up against and going through this with. They're all nice guys and we're all going through the same thing.
But it's over now. I'll probably head home and work out and do the same stuff, but I'm through with the Combine so now I can kind of enjoy the Draft. I'll have a lot of people coming and it'll be nice to share the Draft experience with everyone that has supported me through all this. Thanks for reading everyone!
TORONTO -- Les Jackson, director of scouting and player development for the Dallas Stars, has been doing his job for a long time, and is one of the more respected talent evaluators.
What he's learned over the years has shaped his approach to the Scouting Combine, which is different than many others.
Jackson said in the grand scheme of what he does, he doesn't gain a lot from the Combine, either in the interviews or the fitness testing.
"We take the season to evaluate the players and watch them," he told NHL.com. "Individual scouts in the areas meet with the players, find out about their backgrounds. We don't even really interview players at the Combine itself."
Jackson said he believes the interview set-up at the Combine doesn't do justice to the player are the teams.
TORONTO -- Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney told NHL.com that he's happy with the 27th pick of the first round, but said there's a good chance he will move the pick.
"We're probably more inclined to move the pick one way or the other," he said. "A lot of this stuff gets talked about and dealt with on the draft floor. You look at what might be there. What's the value of dropping some to get an extra pick or two? Does that make sense? Or is there a guy that's sitting there that you might have in your top 12 sitting there at 19 or 20, you say maybe we throw something together to get up. For me, it's really exploring where we can go with it."
Maloney said he's willing to move the pick because the 2012 NHL Draft is considered deep in defensemen, and he feels that's a position of strength in his organization.