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Today is Part 2 of our look ahead to next week's Flames prospect development camp. We talk to team brass about the off-ice component, and how team-building has become the main focus of the weeklong event

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

Today is Part 2 of our look ahead to next week's Flames prospect development camp. We talk to team brass about the off-ice component, and how team-building has become the main focus of the weeklong event.

One player in particular stood out with a grand bit of theatre.

On the ice and on … well, the stage.

"Linus Lindstrom," the Flames' director of player development, Ray Edwards, immediately shot back when asked who the self-assured show-stopper was.

He didn't know it at the time, but the Flames' fourth-round pick - 96th overall - in the 2016 Draft was about to become a symbol of what makes this annual July propsects development camp gathering so significant.

"One night, at dinner, we had the guys form groups, go up to the front of the room and perform a three-to-five minute 'skit,'" Edwards said. "They were all super into it, challenging each other. You know hockey players - they're competitive about everything.

"A lot of the guys did stand-up comedy acts, re-enactments, that sort of thing.  

"But Linus and about three or four others, all Swedes, did a full-on fashion show in their hockey gear, showing off their helmets, elbow pads, and Flames tees. Had the room absolutely howling.

"We never put the guys in situations that could embarrass them or anything like that, but sometimes you learn a lot from people when you get them into an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation, and see how they react to it.

"Seeing the smiles on everyone's faces and how it really brought the guys together - that's what it's all about."


Video: Flames prospects went paintballing at camp


Indeed, the 'develop' in development camp has taken on a new meaning over the years.

While the on-ice element, skill-building and off-ice workouts remain a critical part of the weeklong venture, video sessions, team dinners and team-building activities have become more important than ever.

It is, for the players, more of an orientation period than anything else now - a glamorous, yet educational intro to the organization, the coaching, management, scouting and support staff, and most importantly, their teammates.

"A lot of these guys will be Flames for a lot of years to come, and this is really the first step," Edwards said. "It's really an important week for these guys, so that when they come back for training camp, or down the road from college, they have a real comfortability with each other.

"And that goes for us, too.

"We want to get to know them as players, and as people."

In past years (outside of the infamous, impromptu drama component), the formal team-building events have included things such as paintball, cycling, hikes in Banff and even a MasterChef-inspired cooking competition.


Video: Flames prospects test their skills in the kitchen


Some are those are mainstays and will once again be featured during camp again this year, but the pièce de résistance of the 2019 edition is all-new and has everyone - Edwards included - understandably jazzed up.

"This year we're heading out to Anchor B Ranch for a Stampede-themed day," he said. "We're going horse-back riding, we're going to have a structure-building contest, a fire-building contest, axe throwing ...just fun stuff, right? You name it, we're going to be doing it, sharing some laughs.

"Not only is it a good opportunity to spend some time with their teammates away from the rink, but it's also a good chance for the guys to see their coaches in a different light, too.

"It all comes back to comfort. And fun.

"We want these guys to enjoy both their experience wearing a Flames jersey and their surroundings in and around Calgary - a world-class city.

"We've been fortunate to do a lot of cool things over the years, but I'm really looking forward to it this year.

"And I know the players are, too."

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