Throughout the week, 2019 pick Alex Vlasic will be blogging for Blackhawks.com about his Development Camp experience
The Blackhawks have their Development Camp a little later than other teams around the league and the majority of the guys from the USNTDP program that I know. Most of them went to camp one or two weeks ago and I definitely asked them for some inside info on what they worked on. That's made the adjustemnt this week for me easier, for sure.
This morning, we had another good off-ice session, this time with Coleman Ruiz, who is an ex-Navy SEAL. It was cool to hear everything that he went through. He talked about Hell Week and going five days with no sleep. It put everything in perspective and helped me realize that we have it really easy. He also talked a lot about mindset and mental toughness. Everybody has the skills at this point, but from here on out it's about who has the mental and physical toughness to make it to the next level.
Once we got on the ice today, we did a lot of battle drills and 1-on-1 type exercises. We started off without our sticks and just did some drills on body positioning. That's pretty fast-paced and tough on the body. Last year at the USNTDP we did a lot of 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 drills. It's a lot of fun to compete, especially when you're going up against good players, it's very competitive, but it can also be a lot of fun.
My family was able to come out to practice today, which was very cool. They've always watched me play hockey when I was growing up, so when I got drafted by the hometown team, they just had to drive like 30 minutes up the road to come watch me play. It doesn't get better than that.
My sister played college hockey at Yale and she just graduated. My brother plays for the Blackhawks Special Hockey Team. Everybody except for my Mom has played hockey at one point or another. Everybody has been able to teach me what they learned throughout their career and had some input in my game, so it's cool to have them here.
Having some familiar faces on the ice has also been great. I've been friends with Skating Coach Kevin Delaney for quite some time. I've enjoyed being out there with him and Anders Sorensen, who coached with the Chicago Mission when I was there. But one guy I didn't really know except for a quick conversation at the Draft was Kirby Dach. He's a great guy and I've enjoyed getting to chat with him a little bit this week. He's a really good leader and obviously a really good player too, so I've enjoyed getting to know him.