Hockey is back.
The bowels of Rogers Arena were crawling with Vancouver Canucks prospects Thursday as 2012 Development Camp kicked off.
What was on the agenda for Day 1?
The 35 players, 11 of which have been drafted or signed by the Canucks, began the day dividing into two groups, with Group A busing to UBC first thing to begin fitness testing, while Group B tackled some paperwork and had their headshots taken.
Get a large group of 18-to-22-year-old guys together and you’d expect chaos, but it was anything but as Group B moved silently from the gym to a testing room to the photo area, before eating lunch. Even fueling up for the rest of the day was done in eerie silence.
“It’s like the first day of school,” laughed Nichlas Jensen, the Canucks’ 1st round draftee from a year ago. “Last year it was quiet too and then we all got to know each other better. There are a lot of new faces; I know a few guys from last year and Gaunce from playing against him, but that’s it.”
The bus ride to UBC was also quiet, not surprisingly, with the exception of a few impressed oohs and aahs as the prospects journeyed over the Burrard Bridge. The mountains, the ocean, beach and boats, it was an overwhelming sight that caught quite a few newbies off guard.
Welcome to Vancouver. Now get back to work.
Groups A and B crossed paths at the Undergraduate Learning Centre in UBC’s School of Kinesiology Osborne Centre and it was a tale of two conditions. Group A, having just completed an intense round of testing that included the V02 and Wingate, was drenched in sweat and in need of food. Stat. Group B, all full-bellied and sleepy from the bus ride, got a real wakeup call when they saw the testing equipment in place for them.
Every prospect was more than up to the test and once again, no young gun upchucked.
Truth be told, this crop of prospects is fit beyond belief and although we aren't privy to the testing results, they surely reflect that.
Kenton Miller, a free agent forward from Saskatchewan, is attending his first NHL prospects camp and Day 1, although gruesome, was a privilege to be a part of.
”I had no idea what to really expect, I just tried to bring the best effort I could,” said Miller, 21, who split last season between Moose Jaw and Calgary in the WHL. “The testing was tough and I’m tired now, but I can say I’ve done the V02. That was tough, it’s only 45 seconds so you’d think it would be easy. It’s not.”
The prospects hit the ice late Thursday for some skating analysis and technique drills, and then worked up another sweat in the gym before busing back to the hotel.
It’s all in a day’s work for these future NHLers. And this was just the beginning of six days of intense everything.
This and that
-Both groups took a turn at the Rapid Shot machine and Nolan Zajac was a force in Group B clocking the best score at 291.8. Yes, he's Travis Zajac's younger brother. Brendan Gaunce has no NHL ties, but that didn't stop him from producing the fastest shot at 67 MPH.
-Frankie Corrado is part Italian. Frankie Corrado had a vested interest in today's Euro 2012 semi-final game between Italia and Germany. Frankie Corrado is now very happy.
-Almost everything we had known about Brendan Gaunce we learned from Bob McKenzie and YouTube, but he opened up during a live fan chat to reveal quite a few personal details about himself. You can read the full transcript here; in short, he's loving Vancouver, has a dog named Rocky, he prefers Kobe Bryant to LeBron James, he's a Blackberry user who once played the trumpet, and he needs a new jersey number.
-If Dave Gagner asks you to take a box of sandwiches from Rogers Arena to UBC on the team bus for the hungry prospects just finishing up testing, don't forget the sandwiches at Rogers Arena. Hypothetically speaking, of course.