Two men with entirely different backgrounds were in Colorado earlier this summer, sharing the same goal.
Center Robbie Drummond, a Canadian, played five years with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and wasn’t drafted. Left wing J.D. Corbin was born just outside of Denver and spent quite a few years near home before beginning his professional career. The 23-year-old was selected in the eighth round (No. 249) of the 2004 Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche.
Both Drummond and Corbin participated at the Avalanche’s Development Camp, which was held from July 9-16 at the Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colo. While plenty of time was spent by the players on the ice honing their skills, the main focus was to get guys like Drummond and Corbin on the right path in terms of conditioning.
“They push us at the very beginning,” Corbin said. “They want us to learn. It’s not so much like a tryout week. They want to bring us in here and kind of start developing players at a young age. The big thing that I’ve learned is the off-ice stuff and what it takes to get to the next level and how to work out properly.”
Drummond, 22, is already in pretty decent shape. In 2006, the London, Ontario native competed in Canada’s version of “Making The Cut: Last Man Standing,” where under-the-radar hockey players had a chance to make a name for themselves. The two-week event featured amateur players being forced to go through a rigorous training session.
While he didn’t win, Drummond certainly helped his cause in his push to be a professional hockey player.
“It was interesting. It was out in British Columbia,” Drummond told NHL.com. “They picked 40 guys from Canada. Basically, all we did was some on-ice stuff and some fitness training. They cut 20 guys right away. It was just based on your performance.
“They had us up early in the morning, running in the mountains. I knew it was going to be an all-day thing. I tried to prepare myself as best as I could, but it was still pretty tough. It was a good experience and I met some great guys. We had fun, but we were tired, too.”
"I just want to develop as a player and get better with each game and each practice. If I have a good start, I can build a spot for myself and just go from there.”
-- Avs prospect Robbie Drummond
“It was OK,” said Drummond, who had 41 points in 50 games for Johnstown before earning the promotion. “I started in the ECHL, and played OK down there. It was a bit of an adjustment coming from junior into pro. Guys are a lot stronger, but I think I developed well. I got a few games up in the American League and finished the season up there.”
As did Corbin, who appeared in 42 games for Lake Erie in 2007-08, notching 3 goals and 6 assists. He had 9 points in 16 games for Johnstown.
“I thought it was a pretty good season as far as getting my feet and learning what the game’s like and kind of adapting to the pro game,” Corbin said. “It’s sort of different from the college game. Getting used to that was a big part of last year. It was a good year for me personally. It was good to play down there.”
While most used college as an excuse to get away from home, Corbin stayed close with a four-year run at the University of Denver. His best season came in his junior year (2005-06), when he had 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists) in 38 games.
Corbin arrived in Denver after spending two seasons with the U.S. National Under-18 Team, when he spent a lot of time away from home. That all changed once he joined the college ranks.
“Everything fit,” Corbin responded when asked about his decision to stay close to home. “It’s a great program, great facility, it’s a great city. The coaches there are great. It was just a good fit for me. I played away from home for three years before that, so it was nice to come back home and play in front of my family.”
He’ll get to spend some more time at home before training camp opens in September, but once Tony Granato begins his second stint as Avalanche coach, it will be all business for both Corbin and Drummond. Both are hopeful they can land full-time jobs with Lake Erie this season.
“That’s the plan,” Drummond said. “I want to be back in the AHL full-time next year. I just want to develop as a player and get better with each game and each practice. If I have a good start, I can build a spot for myself and just go from there.”
“That’s what I’m hoping for,” Corbin said. “Every year, you want to get better and shoot for the next level. That’s a goal of mine next year.”
Contact Brian Compton at: firstname.lastname@example.org.