The first thing all players invited to prospect camp are told is that they are here to learn, to develop their game and that it is not an evaluation to make the team.
They won’t be put into steady lines combinations, simulated game situations and most of the on-ice portion of camp are drills that will be repeated to refine areas of their game. Because many of the prospects here are at different points in their hockey career, emphasis is placed on off-ice learning through classroom instruction on lifestyle, health & nutrition (more on that later), and perhaps most importantly getting used to being a part of the Flyers organization and the expectations that come with it.
All prospects are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they aren’t just shown the buffet line and told to dig in. The players are taught nutrition down to the most tedious levels. What ingredients are in each meal they are having, how many calories, grams of fiber, sugar, carbohydrates and even type of fats (saturated, unsaturated).
Going beyond that, prospects will undergo instruction from a nutritionist on what foods are beneficial at what time of day, including before and after exercise and games. Not only will they be told about the different types of foods that make up the meals, they will be shown first hand. A trip to the supermarket with instruction will go through point-by-point on how to take care of yourself for rest, recovery and performance.
All of the prospects enter camp in good physical condition, but most have no idea on how to reach their full physical potential in nearly every situation they will face down the road. At this camp they’ll learn how to get into game shape, how to rest and how to best recover.
This camp is seen as a time for training and most players haven’t skated for a few months depending on when their last game was played. A majority of camp is focused on off-ice situation and preparation.
Prospects are brought into the gym more than the actual ice-time. There they are taught proper weight training and proper stretching techniques and why it is important in preparation for training camp and to maintain the best possible health during the grind of a long hockey season.
Finally, it might not seem like it but a lot of emphasis off the ice also includes stick handling and shooting drills in regular work out clothes and not on the ice. The prospects will go through an hour of training in each of the first four days of camp.
The prospects are put up in a hotel and in nearly every aspect of camp, they participate together in groups. So what’s a perfect way to best get to know your new teammates? A 3 on 3 tournament to wrap up the on-ice portion of camp.
The competition is in it’s third year of inception and second year in the current format. the players are divided into four teams, while the captains of the four teams are chosen by seniority. A “players draft” is then held following dinner the night before the tournament.
The teams won't stay together for the final competition of camp, however. This year’s camp ends with the annual Trial on the Isle, which is a completely different type of competition and one that will get the prospects closer to the Flyers fan base than any point during the week.
It’s true that no player can leave this camp making the team, but what’s also true is that the prospects are under the watchful eye of the development coaches. This will help them develop their skills, make a positive impression with their character, focus, work ethic and show their willingness to learn.
Coaches, management and instructors take note of what areas of the game each prospect needs the most work on, and give them the tools to take with them long after camp wraps up. Similar to the main team, each prospect ends camp with interviews with development coaches, as well as a one on one interview with general manager Ron Hextall.