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Cutting Their Teeth

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL -- As 33 of the Canadiens’ prospects discovered over their last four days at the team’s development camp – when your “work” means getting to play, putting in a few days over the summer months isn’t much of a chore.

Development Camp Photo Gallery
“We’ve been holding these camps for a few years now since the collective agreement with the Player’s Association allowed it with certain rules,” explained Canadiens’ general-manager, Pierre Gauthier. “We have these camps for young players within our organization that are currently playing in the juniors, for universities or in Europe. These are players that we’ve drafted but haven’t had the chance to work much with yet. These camps represent our best opportunity to get some time to work with them directly. While the actual training camps tend to be a lot more competitive, the development camps are geared more towards honing a player’s skills.”

The response has been a positive one, with young players being given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the setting and with each other before being mixed in with the veterans for actual training camp.

“The younger players really enjoy the opportunity, and the proof is that we always have great turnouts for these camps,” explained Gauthier. “They all work extremely hard. Every day for them is very full and when we look at the final assessment, the results from camps like this have been consistently very positive. It’s a good way to help the players make the transition – this way, when they start their careers with us, it’s not their first introduction to the organization.”

It also stands as a great learning opportunity for every player in attendance.

“It’s first of all a way to educate them on the best methods off-ice training,” continued Gauthier. “We also focus on the on-ice, technical elements of the game. It’s at the same time a bridge to help young players make the transition to professional hockey in that they have the chance to grow in an environment that’s different from what they’re used to playing amateur hockey. At the same time we try to prepare them for things like dealing with the media and the psychological and physical aspects of playing at a professional level.”

The Canadiens’ staff also makes use of time with the prospects to track their progression while helping them make any adjustments that might be necessary.

“The evaluation we do concentrates mainly on their off-ice training plans, their level of physical conditioning, their strength and the style of hockey that they play,” finished Gauthier. “We also do other evaluations based on skating, stick-handling and shooting. The goal is help them improve in as many areas as possible.”

Alexandre Harvey is a writer for Translated by Justin Fragapane.

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