CALGARY, AB -- Head coach Bob Hartley wasted no time officially introducing himself to his players Sunday, putting members of the Calgary Flames through an upbeat practice on the opening day of training camp.
The session, which ran for the better part of two hours, featured a heavy dose of skating, puck drills and player battles as the Flames hit the ice for the first time as a complete unit.
Though many players had been taking part in informal skates before the conclusion of the lockout, Blair Jones admitted he was both anxious and a little nervous for the opening on-ice session of camp.
“I was a little bit worried as is anyone at the first game of camp, be it in January or September,” he said. “You’re always concerned about how you’re going to feel but I think for me personally, the lungs felt pretty good. I’m just going to regroup and get ready for tomorrow.”
Despite new faces running the practice, Flames forward Alex Tanguay had an inclination as to what to expect out of Hartley. He played under Calgary’s new coach as a member of the Colorado Avalanche for three full years starting in 1999 and extending into the 2002-03 season.
Tanguay, who won a Stanley Cup Championship with Hartley at the helm in 2001, was happy to not only get back on the ice, but also re-familiarize himself with his coach’s regiment.
“It’s fun to get going, get your timing in the corners and stuff like that,” Tanguay said. “When we were skating at Winsport the guys weren’t coming at you so hard in the corner. There’s a little adjustment. I’ve seen those practices before and they’re exactly like I remembered.”
Practices that defenceman TJ Brodie will have to adjust to.
After spending 54 games in Calgary last season, Brodie was a member of the Abbotsford Heat during the NHL work stoppage – the Flames AHL affiliate. Needless to say, the pace has picked up for the fourth round pick from the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
“It was fast,” said Brodie, who had 14 points in 54 games for the Flames last season. “It’s a different style of practice than we had down there. It was more up-tempo and it was definitely a good workout.”
It’s a speed Brodie can expect to get used to should he crack Calgary’s roster. Hartley insisted the speed would be more of the same throughout the rest of training camp and into the regular season.
“That’s going to be the daily routine,” he said. “Obviously today we went about an hour 45. During regular season, we step on the ice for 10 minutes, we step on the ice for 30 minutes, its going to be the time of business. If we go on the ice to drag our feet, we might as well stay in the locker room and watch TV.”
And with the start of the 2013 season rapidly approaching, Hartley’s fast-paced practices won’t be slowing down anytime soon.