If you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in the locker room, I hope you tuned into our Facebook Live sessions from this morning with a birds eye view of the Devils All-Access Players Lounge during Media Day. The players kicked off training camp by running through a gauntlet of media outlets like NHL Network and MSG and, while waiting their turn for stops along the way, they hit up the players lounge to relax a bit or get their competitive juices firing on all cylinders with games of ping pong, NHL 17, mini air hockey and cornhole.
The social media team was also all over Twitter and Snapchat, so be sure to check those out as well.
Without any audio on the feed, let me fill you in on what I learned by hanging out with the guys this morning.
1) I'm terrible at a ping pong. But, some of the better ping pongers were Joe Blandisi, Mackenzie Blackwood and Travis Zajac, who claims to be the best player on the team. The goalies made things interesting by using their blockers instead of paddles and the Swedes - Anders Lindback and Jacob Josefson - kept their inside jokes to themselves by yelling at each other in Swedish while they were playing. Anders told me later it was mostly curse words. Exhibit A why there was no audio on the feed.
2) John Quenneville is uber competitive and hates to lose. If you don't challenge him, he doesn't want to play you (that would be me). And, if he can't beat you, he will storm out of the room in frustration, but come back a few minutes later asking for a rematch. He and Blandisi started with ping pong, moved to cornhole and nearly started a wrestling match with their aggressive mini air hockey game. We'll have video of this battle for you tomorrow!
3) Keith Kinkaid's got jokes. One of the many photoshoot stations the players had to visit today was right next to the players lounge. I happened to peek in while Keith was doing his best tough guy face and the photographer asked him to do a goalie pose and he said, "You want me to look behind me?" Laughter all around. Then as he stood there in shorts with his jersey on top, complete with chest protector and shoulder pads, someone commented that he looked bigger this year. He flexed his padded arm and said, "Thanks, I've been working out." To which I say, mix in a leg day!
4) Blake Coleman actually has his two front teeth. He lost his during training camp last year thanks to an errant Blandisi stick and hasn't worn the fake ones since he got them, but figured Media Day was a good day to bring them out. Can't argue with him there!
5) Jan Mandat is a big liar or a very fast learner. Either way, he's better than me at cornhole. The line to play NHL 17 was massive and he doesn't like to play ping pong so I offered to play cornhole with him. The Czech native was introduced to the game on the last day of development camp in July during the team barbecue and claims not to have played since. I thought good…I might have a chance to win. Wrong. He drained more beanbags than I got to stay on the board. He's a ringer. Don't play cornhole with him. All good though, I got my revenge on the mini air hockey table ;-)
6) Pavel Zacha gave Colton White a little congrats-on-signing-your-first-pro-contract bonus during their open ice session yesterday when he tipped a puck that hit him smack in the ear and ripped it in half. The docs needed 12 stitches to sew him back together, but he's back in business because he's a hockey player.
7) Former BC teammates Steve Santini and Miles Wood are attached at the hip and might give #SuperBuddies pairs Mike McCloud and Nate Bastian and Colton White and Blake Speers a run for their money. They are also camera shy.
I also had a chat on Facebook Live with general manager Ray Shero this afternoon where he answered your questions about the upcoming season so be sure to check that out as well. I'll be chatting with a player every day during camp at 11:30am, so set a reminder alarm and "like" us on Facebook to be notified every time we go live!
I'll be back tomorrow with news and notes from the first day on ice at Devils training camp. Until then!