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Training Camp Report, Sept. 17

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets


The squad remained broken down into two groups, one of which will dress for the opening preseason contest against the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow evening at 5 p.m. The non-playing team took to the ice at 9 a.m. and ran drills and practiced until 9:45 a.m. on the main ice at Nationwide Arena. Head coach Gerard Gallant led the team through a vigorous workout, highlighted by speed and agility drills, while CBJ President and General Manager Doug MacLean, as well as the rest of the Jackets’ front office took copious notes on each athlete. Upon the conclusion of the workouts, the goaltenders worked with goaltending coach Rick Wamsley as the skaters returned to their locker rooms. At 10:30 a.m., the playing team began to stretch and took to the ice at 11 am, practicing until 12:30 p.m., over at the Dispatch Ice Haus.

On getting to play against a different opponent, other than themselves…
“I think the guys are really looking forward to it. They are getting tired of playing against each other, and you know what that’s like. You play three or four days of playing against your teammates, and the scrimmage games, they got tired of that, so I really think they are looking forward to tomorrow night. That’s one of nine exhibition games, so I think it’s going to be a big advantage for us in the long run. It should be fun. We haven’t played in a year and a half now.”

On how Saturday’s practice went…
“I thought practice went pretty well. We had two big groups going with five lines and eight defensemen, so it was a lot of guys on the ice. The ice is okay, but when you get that many players on it, it wears down pretty quick. I thought the competitive drills were good, and that’s what we’re looking for right now.”

On what the coaching staff is looking to get out of Sunday’s game…
“We got a lot of kids competing tomorrow and you want to see how our kids compete against the NHL talent. We’re getting ready. We have to adjust to all the new rules and all of the penalties that are going to be called, so we have to adjust to that. We want people competing hard because there are some spots on our team that are up for grabs, and there are a lot of guys fighting for those last couple of spots.”

On how the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation Golf Classic went on Friday…
“It was a lot of fun. It rained real hard a couple of times, but we had a lot of fun. The three coaches played together, we played with one of our defensemen, Francois Beauchemin, you know, we played pretty well. It was great for the CBJ Foundation, it was a great event and raised a lot of money.

On guys who have made the biggest improvement since last season...
"Steven Goertzen and Greg Mauldin have looked good. So have Mark Hartigan, Joe Motzko, Aaron Johnson, Raffaele Sannitz. The six kids from Syracuse have looked real good. And the goalies, (Pascal) Leclaire and (Andrew) Penner have made solid improvements. They all have come to camp in great shape. They had great off-season workouts and it shows here at the start of camp."

On younger guys who have stood out the most during the first week of camp...
"(Gilbert) Brule's shown everything. He has all kinds of talent, works hard, has a real good skill level. He has shown through the first week that he can definitely play with these guys. Kris Russell's a smaller defenseman, but he has unbelievable feet. He's such a smooth skater. Usually smaller guys have to overcome size, but he competes hard; it doesn't seem to effect him. (Alexandre) Picard's fit right in. He drives the net as hard as anyone. He's the type of player we need in the organization. He has a tremendous work ethic and a lot of passion for the game.

"(Jaroslav) Balastik's a little older guy, but it's his first year over here from Europe. He's looked good out there; looks like he's going to fit in well. He seems to be adjusting and adapting to the North American game.

"(Kirill) Starkov has been a good surprise. He has shown better than we would have expected as an 18-year old kid, later round pick, coming over from Europe. And (Jared) Boll has gotten better each day, from the start of Traverse City to now. He's been a very pleasant surprise as well."

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