One of the biggest names at this year's Prospect Camp is 2008 first-round draft pick Kyle Beach. We solicited fan questions on @NHLBlackhawks, the team's official Twitter account, then caught up with Beach at Johnny's Ice House West to get a few of them answered.What is the atmosphere like at the prospect camp?
Emotions are high, guys are in great shape and working hard. Guys are fighting for a chance at the main camp. For me, it’s a chance to compare myself and my game to other prospects and to make strides. It’s also for me a chance to talk to people within the organization and find out exactly what they want from me going forward.
It’s a great time to be here, especially after the team won the Stanley Cup just a month ago. The stands are full here at Johnny’s today, and the buzz around the city during the playoffs was unbelievable. We owe a huge thanks to the city and the fans for all of the support they’ve given us. We wouldn’t be here without them.What happened for you to drop the gloves today [against free agent invitee John Kurtz]?
He came off the bench and wanted to fight me; he wasn’t on the ice, but he asked [Rockford head coach] Bill Peters for permission and Bill gave him the green light. He then politely asked me and I told him that I didn’t have my tie-down on and I had to get it on. If he wants to come and be a fighter here, most times – if it’s the right time – I’ll be a willing combatant. It’s just one of those situations where I was frustrated with my play today and he wanted to fight. If that’s how he wants to come and make a name for himself here, I’ll give him the opportunity. Do you feel any pressure knowing there are spots up for grabs on the defending Cup champ?
I don’t think I feel any added pressure yet. I’m sure come training camp when the media is asking about a “repeat,” I might. But it has given me extra motivation to get myself ready and in the best shape I can be in for training camp.
The team has done it once, and we’re happy, but I don’t think anyone is satisfied. The Blackhawks have a great core: a great captain in Jonathan Toews
and great players like Patrick Kane
, Duncan Keith
, Brent Seabrook
and Patrick Sharp
. They were a really tight-knit bunch this year, and hopefully I can join that core this coming season.Do you have any cool nicknames?
In Spokane, my teammates Ryan Letts and Mitch Wahl came up with the name “Birch.” I think it started as “Birchwood,” and slowly moved to something else and finally ended as “Birch.” Here, it’s just been “Beachy” or “Beach.”What have you worked on during the offseason?
I had the opportunity to be here for the playoffs, all the way through the Stanley Cup parade. It has taken away a little bit from my summer training, having been here for so long; I spent a week at home, a week training and now I’m back here in Chicago.
One thing I’m really trying to focus on is my quickness; I’m working on my first three strides, trying to get up to top speed. I’ll hopefully be working with [skating coach] Paul Vincent here throughout the summer, working on my speed and quickness. As far as off the ice, I’m going to be in the gym five or six days a week working on cardio, quickness and strength. Obviously, conditioning can always be better. Come September, I want to be as ready as I can be. What fact could you share about yourself that we might find interesting or unusual?
People hear a lot about me and my personality, but at the same time, I’ve already talked with the guy I fought today, and there usually aren’t any hard feelings after a fight. We both know that we’re here to make an impression.
I think that’s something that hockey fans don’t always understand, especially at these prospects camps: yes, we’re going to do whatever it takes to make an impact, but at the same time I’m rooming with the guy I just got finished fighting against. It’s definitely interesting in that aspect.