The doors of the Ice Haus opened bright and early Saturday morning to welcome fans to the Blue Jackets' 2017 Training Camp, presented by OhioHealth.
People of all ages packed the rink to watch the players get their first official time with pucks during camp. Divided into a morning and an afternoon block of sessions, each group first played an hour-long scrimmage followed by two hours of on and off-ice training.
So, yes. There was more skating. Lots more skating.
"I've never had a bag skate in front of fans before so that was pretty interesting," Nick Foligno said. "But they were cheering us on, I think they saw our tongues hanging on the ice. I think they realize the work we're putting in to be a great team."
These first few days are about proofing out the work the players have done in the off-season, and making your case for where you fit on the Blue Jackets roster. But for head coach John Tortorella, they are also about improving a mindset, not just physical performance.
Tortorella says he was pleased with the results of the two-mile running test. With the skating, there were some good scores and some "surprises." But it's not the numbers that he is focused on it's the manner in which the tests are done that tells him how much stronger a player may have gotten mentally.
"(These tests) show how you went about your business during the summer," Tortorella said. "In general terms, one of the biggest points in the camp is when we're doing these skating drills wherever the (players) start, they need to end it. They can't glide to where they started. I want them to finish every drill. I want them to finish every skate. I think that's what develops a mindset of trying to improve and trying to be better."
Tortorella has already said he's on watch for even one iota of "giving less." The focus for this team has to be not letting their foot off the gas. He's seen teams come back to camp after a successful season and lose some jump, or not be on their toes.
A sign went up in the locker room today that reads "good is the enemy of great."
And so whether it's lap one, or lap eight of a skating drill, even as the muscles seize and the strides shorten, and the skates start to feel like weights, it's about finishing. The right way.
At the meeting at the first day of camp, Torts drove home that point. The goal is to finish.
"That's the mental part of it, that's not giving in," Tortorella said. "I look at the times and the boys clamor around the times, but I don't put a whole lot of stock into it. I certainly put a lot of stock into a guy giving in or finishing, and making sure he finished."
Tomorrow brings another full day of camp for these Jackets. It's another schedule of scrimmages and workouts with groups starting at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. All sessions are open to the public.
Video: John Tortorella reflects on Day Three of camp
- G Matiss Kivlenieks, who signed with the Jackets this summer, finally got his new set of pads and helmet. Saturday was his second day skating in them. The pads are still "pretty stiff," but the 21-year-old Latvian doesn't expect it to take long to break them in. "Practicing like this, (they'll be broken in) probably soon."
- Brandon Dubinsky, who is recovering from off-season wrist surgery, did not participate in a scrimmage, skating on his own in the Ice Haus. He did join his training group for the on-ice workout.
- Camp scrimmages don't go towards any official statistic, and both games today ended in ties. But, for the curious, your goal scorers today are: Pierre-Luc Dubois (2), Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, Gabriel Carlsson, Zach Dalpe, Stephen Desrocher, Bobby MacIntyre, Sonny Milano, Justin Scott.