The second day of Colorado Avalanche development camp started in much of the same way as the first, with breakfast, warmup activities, strength and conditioning work and a power skating session on the ice with consultant Tracy Tutton.
Split into three colorful groups—Burgundy, Blue and White (gray)—those attending camp, whether an Avs prospect or invitee, rotated through stations for learning, training and developing.
That’s the point, right?
For some, like members of the 2016 draft class, development camp serves as an introduction to the NHL life. Players learn what it takes to become an elite athlete, from sleeping habits to nutrition to training. It can be an eye-opening experience for those first-year guys.
“Going into it, I knew it was going to be hard. I don’t think I knew it was going to be this hard, but it’s what you expect,” 2016 first-round pick Tyson Jost said. “It’s all fun and you’re just looking to get better and looking to develop as a player. That’s what this camp is all about, just trying to soak it up and learn as much as you can. So I’m just trying to do that day-by-day.”
For those returning to development camp, the overall event is about exactly one thing: development. Those attending their second or third or even fourth camp continue to receive coaching, both as a group and on an individual level, and can gauge their year-over-year progress in the variety of tasks and trials presented throughout the week.
“Everything we've done has been pretty challenging,” said Ben Storm, a third-year attendee. “Even the off-ice stuff has really pushed us to the max. Every day is a grind, and [I’m] just trying to enjoy the experience.”
Things are different this year, though. While the 2015 camp only featured power skating sessions on the ice, this season’s iteration includes additional afternoon activities at the rink, tailored specifically to a player’s position.
“Last year we didn’t have a practice in the afternoon. Now we have a practice with [Adam Foote] and [Brett Clark], and it’s really good for us and we’re learning a lot,” said rear guard Nicolas Meloche. “We’re learning about their experience. They’re teaching us what they want us to do on the ice, so it’s pretty good for us.”
Working with these former Avs D-men has certainly been a highlight for the blueliners in attendance.
“It’s been great. We’re getting some advice, especially…from Footer and Clarkie,” University of Denver captain Will Butcher admitted. “It’s really helping out. Any time you get advice from those guys, it’s worth your time to get out there and skate with those guys because they know it first hand. So it’s a great experience.”
“The second ice practice we have is more individual skill development. Last year it was more like power skating stuff,” Swedish rear guard Anton Lindolm added. “I just try to take every opportunity to work with Footer and Clarkie. Obviously, if you’re going to learn something about the NHL, Clarkie and Footer are [some] of the best people to learn it from.”
Forwards like Jost and Storm also get customized training from former Avalanche forward Brian Willsie and David Oliver, Colorado’s director of player development.
“It’s been good. We’ve been doing some great drills, challenging drills,” Storm said of his time on the ice. “I think it’s a lot of helpful stuff. Tight turns, 1-on-1 battles, just little things that they like to emphasize.”
“It’s been great. It’s everything I would have imagined. It’s a great program here, so I’m really excited to be a part of this,” Jost added. “Being on the ice and getting a taste of what the workouts are like, it’s awesome. I just can’t wait for the rest of the week.”
The three netminders at camp—Spencer Martin, Adam Werner and Chase Marchand—also get solo tutelage from San Antonio Rampage goaltending coach Jean-Ian Filiatrault and the Colorado Eagles’ equivalent, Ryan Bach.
So far, the messages, corrections and lessons presented have all had an impact on the intended audience. Most would say that things have been great.
“This is great. You don’t have this experience anywhere else. You’ve got to take it all in and soak it all up as much as you can,” said Butcher. “You’ve just got to work as hard as you can and just try to learn as much and grow as a player and a person.”
“I’m happy about what I’m doing, and it’s just been great so far,” added Meloche. “I’m going to take everything I can and put it in my game in Gatineau.”