MONTREAL - After officially becoming members of the Canadiens' family last month, the Habs' Draft Class of 2007 will be joined by other fellow prospects at the Canadiens' Annual Development Camp from July 9-15.
With most players getting their first of hopefully many looks at the Bell Centre, the camp will be an important step in their development. Among the 24 invitees are 2007 picks Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban, Olivier Fortier, Yannick Weber, Joe Stejskal, Andrew Conboy, Nichlas Torp, and Scott Kishel. David Fischer, the Canadiens' top selection in 2006, will also be on hand.
The players will be put through a battery of tests both on and off the ice. The itinerary also includes a series of team building activities and information sessions aimed at preparing them for a life in hockey. Everything from training tips to nutrition pointers will be on the menu.
The on-ice sessions will be held at the Jacques Lemaire Arena in Lasalle, with the Bell Centre hosting all off-ice activities.
Led by Habs assistant coach Roland Melanson, strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Livingston and Director of Player Recruitment and Development Trevor Timmins, the players will get to know one another while gaining valuable knowledge that will make their eventual journey to the NHL that much easier.
Former teammates Ryan Walter and Gaston Gingras will also play key roles in helping groom the Canadiens of tomorrow. Walter, who has carved out a new niche for himself since his retirement in 1993 by becoming a motivational speaker, is scheduled to pass on his wisdom this week. Gingras, who won a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens along with Walter in 1986, has a more hockey-related mandate. The ex-blue liner will be heading a series of power-skating sessions throughout the week.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is, but the benefits of the camp speak for themselves.
Soaked in champagne after leading the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Calder Cup last month, goalie phenom Carey Price couldn't say enough about the development camps he attended in both 2005 and 2006. Getting the chance to only play a pair of regular season games before igniting the Bulldogs' playoff run, the 19-year-old credited the camps for allowing him to form a bond with the players now staring across from him in the Hamilton dressing room.
"These guys are all my brothers, we're all so close even though I only arrived late in the season," said Price, while bottles were being emptied over his head after winning the AHL championship and playoff MVP honors. "I knew most of these players way before I got here. Getting to know each other at Canadiens development camps was absolutely huge for this group."
While the players at this year's camp are still far from winning the Calder Cup let alone the Stanley Cup, you've got to start somewhere. Just ask Carey Price.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com