I don't know if you're waiting for the testing day, but definitely for camp to start. Testing's over, so now the fun part starts.
- Jonas Hiller
CALGARY, AB -- It’s good, Jonas Hiller admitted, to be back.
But fitness testing to kick of Calgary Flames training camp? That might be another story.
“I don't know if you're waiting for the testing day, but definitely for camp to start,” said Hiller, in his first camp with Calgary after signing a two-year contract with the Flames in July. “Testing's over, so now the fun part starts.
“It seems already a long time since I've been playing games, so I'm definitely excited coming in here and excited to get a fresh start, prove there's a reason why I'm here and have a great season.”
The Flames got back to action Thursday by opening their 2014 training camp with fitness testing and medicals at Winsport.
It’s a necessary evil, Dennis Wideman admitted.
“Fitness testing is what it is,” said Wideman, who played just 46 games in an injury-riddled campaign last year. “It’s hard, obviously but its two and a half minutes (for) the main test. If you can get through that, the next three weeks is a couple hours on the ice. It’s a lot longer to wrap your head around.
“I think last year when we started, after this camp I felt great. It was a good camp.”
Last year set the bar in what served as coach Bob Hartley’s first full training camp.
It’s where the Flames blueprint of a hard working, blue-collar club was established.
“If it’s like last year, I think it’s basically go, go, go,” Wideman said. “I think we’re trying to cram learning the systems, fitness and just hard work into a short amount of time as we can, three hours, four hours. Usually it’s just hard work and trying to get us going so we hit the start of the season full speed.”
Hartley’s reputation for demanding hard work of his club is nothing new in the Flames locker room. It isn’t a surprise to veterans returning under Hartley’s system.
It won’t catch newcomer Devin Setoguchi off guard, either.
“Nowadays, I think everywhere in the NHL has bumped up the mentality,” said Setoguchi, who signed with Calgary in August. “It’s hard. But I’ve heard words from guys and he’s even told me himself that it’s going to be a hard camp. I’ll see what kind of shape I’m in by the end of it.”
SMID’S FIRST SPIN
Though he didn’t get a camp in under Hartley a year ago, Ladislav Smid is more than prepared to go through Calgary’s September spin.
After all, he did manage to survive nearly six months of Calgary practices.
“I’ll tell you on Saturday after two days how it’s going to be,” said the 28-year-old, who was acquired via trade from the Edmonton Oilers last November. “What I heard is just old-school camp, really hard practices and get ready for the season. I experienced a little bit last year during the season. The team has its own identity and it’s hard work.
“When I came here from Edmonton, and nothing against Edmonton, but the practices here are just on a different level. It’s like a game. It’s getting you ready for the game and it’s not as big of a transition from practice to game.”
It’ll get harder, too. The worst is yet to come, Smid admitted.
“Today was pretty hard,” he started, “But I’m expecting that the practices and games are going to be harder.”
There’s a method to the hard work, according Mark Giordano. Healthy bodies give way to healthy minds, the captain admitted.
“You always want to be in shape,” said Giordano, who clocked in a couple pounds lighter than last season. “Being in good shape helps you mentally on the ice. When you know that you really put the time in and work in in the offseason, you feel that much more confident in your game on the ice. It’s an important day, I think, for everyone.
“I take a lot of pride trying to come into camp in the best possible shape every year.”
That measure comes in the form of fitness testing day for Giordano.
“It was good,” he said. “There’s certain tests that you enjoy more than others. I think the last bike test really gets you and gets the lungs going. I’m excited to see the scores again.
“Every year, you try to improve in all areas but you never really know until the next day when you get the results.”
The first on-ice sessions of Flames camp are scheduled for Friday, September 19th starting at 10 a.m. at WinSport. All on ice sessions are open for viewing to the public.