There are 61 players as Canucks Training Camp, each given a group for the four-days of activities, that include a workout, ice time and two video sessions a day.
The first group to hit the ice, the Blue Group (not to be confused with the Blue Man Group), featured Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Radim Vrbata, Shawn Matthias, Bo Horvat and Derek Dorsett up front, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Frankie Corrado and Yannick Weber on defence and Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom in goal.
During the 70-minute ice session the players worked on everything from tempo shooting and continuous 2 vs. 1, to quick puck movement and transition and neutral zone doublebacks.
“It was good to be out there finally, to have a structured practice together,” said Radim Vrbata. “The first 20-25 minutes was high-tempo and it was difficult, but you get used to it and you go from there.”
Although it’s too early to read into line combinations, Vrbata skated with the Sedins on what could be Vancouver’s top trio.
“By the end hopefully we’re on the same page, but you could see that if you get open for them and get a little space, they’ll find you, so that will be my job to find open ice and be ready for passes,” said Vrbata.
The Sedins have had almost as many linemates as goals over the years, but there’s something special about Vrbata that had fans buzzing Friday morning.
If the chemistry works itself out, 'Vrbata, from Daniel and Henrik Sedin,' will be a sentence Canucks commentators use nightly this season. You can’t rush chemistry though, stressed Daniel Sedin.
“It could go quick, it could take a couple of weeks, it could take a month, it’s different with everyone. I remember Anson Carter took a while actually, but once you find it, it’s fine.”
“He’s such a good player, we watched him playing in Phoenix and we really like the way he plays the game.”
Daniel said Vrbata reminds him of Alex Burrows, except for the right-handed shot. Whether that turns out to be a factor in how well Vrbata plays with the Sedins remains to be seen, but it has Daniel and Henrik excited.
“We didn’t ask for a right-handed shot, Burr played well for us too, but if you can get a right-handed shot and a player like him, I think it’ll help,” said Daniel.
Of note from the first session: Horvat was between Matthias and Dorsett (remember it’s still too early to read into line combinations), Cole Cassels was cleared to play Thursday and practiced, Miller’s new mask looks spectacular and Matthias scored the two best goals, first beating Markstrom top shelf after streaking down the right wing, then cutting into the middle of the ice and snapping a low shot past Miller from just over the blueline.