BROSSARD – Like most summer camps, the Habs’ development camp has been the perfect opportunity to force some of the youngsters out of their comfort zones.
While the campers weren’t copping to writing homesick letters to their families just yet, the coaches were doing all they could to push the prospects to the limit on Wednesday. Since all of the future stars already excel at forward crossovers and tight turns, the Habs’ staff figured it was time to up the ante with some on-ice frog jumps and one-legged zig zags.
After missing the majority of the Bulldogs season recovering from surgery, Olivier Fortier
admitted he was a little rusty when it came to the unconventional exercises.
“It’s the third time I’d done that type of drill. In hockey, you’re often on one leg or off balance so it’s good practice,” explained Fortier, who returned to the Hamilton lineup just in time to play his team’s final 10 postseason games. “Drills where you have to zig zag and pivot on one leg probably give me the most trouble. I’ve done them before, though, and I get better every time.”
The forwards and defense weren’t the only ones facing tough challenges on Day 2 of training camp. But according to netminder Petteri Simila, the Canadiens’ final selection at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, it wasn’t the on-ice component making his life miserable.
“We’re doing some different things this year than we did before. For example, we did the VO2 max test this time and we didn’t do it last year,” said the smiling Finn. “It was tough but I survived – well, I’m not dead anyway!
“There are a few exercises we don’t do in Finland,” recounted the 6-foot-5 goaltender. “There are a lot more drills on the ice, but it’s good to come in and get a refresher of all the things we learned last year.”
For a few of the players, just hitting the ice was a big step in their development. Drafted by the Canadiens in 2008, Steve Quailer
isn’t getting his first taste of NHL camp life this week, but he is testing out his skates for the first time in a while.
“I was hurt in a preseason game this year and I didn’t play at all during the 2009-10 season,” admitted the 20-year-old forward. “This is the first time I’ve gone through a tough practice since my injury. Of course I was working out and came out and skated around a little, but nothing this intense, that’s for sure.
“Going down in the preseason is probably the worst thing that could happen. Missing 40-straight games isn’t exactly an ideal season,” explained Quailer with a laugh before adding. “I had to stay at school the whole time… I don’t love
school; I love hockey.” Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.See also:Happy campers Make the play Vote for the Habs' best d-man in 2009-10 Year in review – Marc-Andre Bergeron