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Hradek: Ready to start playing some hockey

Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 8:54 AM

By EJ Hradek - NHL.com Analyst / NHL.com's 2014 Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp blog

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NHL.com's 2014 Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp blog
Hradek: Ready to start playing some hockey

Greetings from sunny and warm Las Vegas, Nevada. Of course, after a winter spent (for the most part) in the Northeast, almost anywhere might be considered sunny and warm.

I arrived on Monday afternoon for practice day. I did not make it in time for either of the two workout sessions run by former Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Cap Raeder and New York Rangers' skating and skill development coach Mark Ciaccio. Long ago realizing that my game was beyond repair, the coaches decided against fining me.

This year, the coaches have more players to worry about as the camp tournament has expanded from four to six teams. While Raeder and Ciaccio put the campers through their paces on the ice, Walter Gretzky and the other coaches rate the players in preparation for the draft.

Later in the evening, at the Bellagio Hotel and Resort (tough assignment, eh?), the teams were announced. I landed on a team headed by former pros Rick Tocchet and Matthew Barnaby, which means we won't get pushed around. At least, I hope we won't.

The games begin this afternoon with each of the six teams playing twice. With any luck, I won't get hurt.

Quote of the Day

For six months, it's a really good accomplishment. But as soon as April [11, the end of the regular season] comes around, no one thinks about the regular season anymore. For six months, it's a real battle to get into the playoffs in the NHL these days. There are a lot of good teams, and it takes consistency over a long time.

— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on clinching a playoff berth after a win against the Islanders on Saturday
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