Players trickled into the gym beneath General Motors Place for medical and fitness testing early this morning. Training Camp 2006 is now officially underway - at least for the rookies.
Volunteers from UBC's human kinetics department tested more than 30 Canuck hopefuls including 2005 first-round pick Luc Bourdon, Manitoba Moose leading-scorer Jesse Schultz, and Kelowna Rocket standout Alexander Edler.
"I've been waiting for this day for a long time," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "We've had a really good summer. We're prepared and anxious to go just like the players are, and it starts tomorrow on the ice."
The prospects start official on-ice workouts at 8 Rinks in Burnaby beginning Saturday at 9 am.
Vigneault, who spent the morning circulating through the gym, says it's probably the most exciting camp he's seen.
"I think because of the [salary cap] issues, some younger players are definitely going to get an opportunity. That opportunity is there, but they have to grab it, they have to make sure they're capable of contributing to the success of the Canucks."
"I think probably 15 or 20 of the players that are here will move on to main camp. And their performance is going to dictate whether they move on or not."
"It's up to the players to go on the ice, and if they're offensive players, to show us good offense. If they're defensive players, they have to show us they can play good defense."
One of those players is Rick Rypien, who dressed five games for the Canucks last season before injuring his ankle. He says he's healthy and eager to get on skates.
"The ankle feels pretty good right now and camp will be a good test to see where it's at. So far it's been pretty good."
"I just want to come in and play my game, work hard and do my thing out there and leave it up to [the coaches]."
"There are a lot of good players in camp, but I think my chances are good. I think starting now and tomorrow it matter what you do every day. I just have to go out there and give 'er."
Unlike most of the guys testing Friday morning, Rypien knows what it's like wearing a Canuck sweater in the NHL. As short as it was, his five-game stint in 2005-06 is a motivator heading into camp this season.
"It was a big confidence boost but I kind of didn't know what to expect. As I went on I felt more comfortable and being around the guys helped."
"It was a big boost and I want to pick up where I left off as soon as possible."
Â Rypien and the rest of the prospects will get their chance starting early tomorrow as they skate every day at 8 Rinks until Thursday when the veterans join before heading up to Vernon.
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|Jannik Hansen and Alexander Edler watch aerobic testing while Dustin Slade grimmaces and Luc Boudon recovers. |
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|Jesse Shcultz gets measured before testing his vertical, while Mike Brown coils the springs. |
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|Goaltenders Julien Ellis and Alexandre Vincent compare notes. Edler reaches for the top and Schultz talks to reporters about his chances of playing in Vanocuver. |