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Development Camp '09 Gets in Gear

by Dyan LeBourdais / Boston Bruins

Returning prospects Zach Hamill, Alain Goulet, Adam Courchaine, Jeff LoVecchio and Michael Hutchinson get warmed up on Day 1.
BOSTON, MA -- As day one of the third annual Boston Bruins Development Camp began, the prospects shuffled into Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington to get their physicals and testing underway.

Each player took their photo headshots; height, weight and reach were measured, followed by pull-ups, bench presses and a standing jump.

Later would come most of the players’ least favorite activity of the week: the shuttle run.

Due to rain, the players wouldn’t be running outside on the track at Ristuccia. Instead, everyone was bussed to The Edge indoor sports complex in Bedford.

Adam Courchaine, one of the B’s goaltending prospects, did the run last year in the sweltering sun, so he said there were both pros and cons to the move inside.

“Being indoors and out of the sun makes it a little easier, but the turf is obviously a little different,” he explained.

All the prospects, minus the injured, worked their hardest to complete the shuttle run as quickly as possible.

But running 300 yards (12 sprints of 25 yards) three times with short rest is no easy task.

Being a veteran at development camp, Courchaine was able to offer up a little advice to the new guys this year.

“I basically said, ‘Keep a good pace, don’t go in too fast off the beginning or you won’t have anything left in the end.’”

Courchaine’s advice to the younger prospects was no doubt a welcome development for the new B's, but his showing camaraderie with his future teammates is precisely what the camp is intended to instill.

Although there was a sense of accomplishment and competitiveness among the players, Don Sweeney, Director of Hockey Operations & Player Development, made sure the players understood that this camp wasn’t a tryout.

“There will be no cuts - this is not a tryout by any stretch,” explained Sweeney. “This is all about the development aspect of things as I’ve trumpeted all along.”

Development camp is very different from the training camp that will begin late next month. In fact, only a few teams throughout the NHL host development camps. These camps, different from regular training camps, are usually filled with young players who have been drafted or invited by the organization in order to develop these players and prepare them for their future.

“They’re going to learn about what the expectations are from our staff and from our group – from the Boston Bruins – and have a clear understanding about what it’s going to take going forward for them,” said Sweeney.

Sweeney spoke about the intentions of the camp. He explained that each prospect has something to work on and that this week provides the perfect learning environment for the staff to act as teachers.

In essence, the students just need to worry about  working hard.

“It’s easy to work on the strengths of your game,” said Sweeney, “it’s the harder part when people point out you have some deficiencies that you have to get better at.”

In order to perfect their game, each player must also be willing to take the criticisms sent their way.

“I don’t think it’s the easiest thing in the world to absorb constructive criticism, as a young player it’s probably even more difficult,” said Sweeney. “But we’ve got a wealth of knowledge and people who have been around the game an awful long time to impart their knowledge and hopefully pass a little along as they go.

“I said to the kids last night that it would be in their best interest to try and absorb some of that and take it going forward to apply it to their game.

“It’s nothing to do with anything other than trying to help them.”

Many people that receive constructive criticism in a negative manner, but Sweeney said that isn’t the organizations goal.

“It’s not coming from any negative slant whatsoever,” he said.

A few current Bruins players have stepped out of the development camp in the past couple of years with a little edge, which helped them shine in training camp.

That edge could be loosely described as simply being more comfortable in their surroundings.

“I think that you look at the players who have come out of [development camps], Milan [Lucic] being obviously one of them, but Matt Hunwick and David [Krejci] and all the guys … are able to go and be in a more relaxed environment when it is about competing for jobs,” said Sweeney.

Ryan Button doesn’t know anything about all of that. After all, he has only been in Boston 24-hours.

However, the young defenseman from Edmonton, Alberta had already learned something, particularly speaking about the dreaded shuttle run.

“I’m glad it’s over,” he said.
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