The competitive spirit of the Vancouver Canucks prospects is starting to shine through after a few days of reacquainting themselves to old friends and meeting new faces.
The prospects scrimmaged Monday and were on the ice again Tuesday and despite the friendly atmosphere seen among the players before ice times, it was all business once the boys hit the ice.
“I think everyone here so far has been really impressed with how competitive they’ve been,” said Dave Gagner, director of player development for the Canucks. “It’s been a really positive camp to this point.”
One of the more difficult things for the Canucks coaches and development personnel is keeping the intensity level high, while still keeping the team-first attitude throughout the group.
“The one thing we’ve said to all the kids is to go out there and compete very hard and battle for pucks, but respect each other’s safety. This is the summer time, we don’t want anybody getting hurt.”
Learning on the Job
Now a couple days into his first professional camp, Jordan Subban described the experience as a bit of an eye-opener, but loves the knowledge it’s giving him.
“It’s definitely a lot harder than any other training camp that I’ve ever been a part of,” said Subban, saying a lot given the 2013 5th round pick already has gone through two camps with the Belleville Bulls in addition to Hockey Canada’s U-18 Summer Camp.
Having players, like Subban, who have played at the elite level for so long still be surprised at the skill and hard-work required to keep up is one of the main goals the staff have with the development camp.
“For the first year players it’s an eye-opener," said Dave Gagner. "The conditioning levels that we expect and the competitive nature that comes with playing against bigger, older, stronger players so for some of these guys it’s an adjustment.”
As for Subban, he’s just trying to make like a sponge and soak up as much as he can, while showing off what he’s got through the jam-packed week.
“My goal is to leave a good impression on everybody here. I want to show everybody how much I want to be a part of the organization and let everyone know how badly I want to make this team."
Feeding the Dragon-boaters
The on-ice sessions today were skill development drills for the most part. The forwards were working out of the Sedin’s office (behind the net), going over their cycle games, quick passing and humming one-timers into the top of the net.
“It was great to finally see some pucks out there on ice after a couple of days without them,” said a relieved Hunter Shinkaruk.
Meanwhile at the other end of the rink the defencemen were focusing on the always difficult play of taking the puck off the boards, throwing in a head-fake before firing a quick shot on net.
For Daniel Johnston, the extra skating instructions were the biggest help.
“It’s the little things you pick up, like efficiency, how to get the most out of your stride, things like that,” said Johnston.
After a quick lunch break, the boys got a chance to soak up some sun while dragon boating False Creek.
“I’m from Calgary where it’s been pouring all week, it was great to get out in the sun here,” said Johnston. “It was competitive with the races in the dragon boats. My team actually took all four races.”
The former Lethbridge Hurricanes player wasn’t ready to take all the credit for the win, despite some friendly jabs from his campmates.
All that paddling worked up quite an appetite, so it made sense for the players to head into the kitchen for a cooking class with Canucks chef David Speight.
Johnston picked up a few good tips from the lessons.
“I’m pretty good on the barbeque so the tips on figuring out when your steak is at medium rare was good to know. But also they taught us what were good meals and snacks to have before a game or post-game. Those are things that will stick with me.”
Hopefully the boys tucked in because they are going to need all the fuel they can take on board tomorrow morning as they head to the North Shore to tackle the daunting Grouse Grind.
“I’ve heard it’s pretty much 45 minutes of pure leg pain,” said Johnston, “so I took in an extra steak for that.”