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Back On The Ice: Prospect Camp Opens

by Joe Siville / Philadelphia Flyers
(Voorhees, NJ) - Although we’re somewhat past the midway point in the off-season, the summer ended a little sooner for the Philadelphia Flyers rookies and prospects, who today at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. kicked off their annual Prospect Camp by returning to the ice for some drills and power skating.

“It’s good to get back on the ice,” said James van Riemsdyk, who is making his second appearance at a Flyers prospect camp since being chosen second overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. “I know it’s been a while since a lot of us have been out there in a competitive environment and it’s nice to get your legs back under you again.”

For many of the players, the value and development this camp provides is especially important because it gives them a taste of that NHL-caliber level to which they are all working to reach.

“It’s a lot about consistency,” added van Riemsdyk. “You have to go out there and work hard every time you touch the ice and always work on improving yourself, because there are always things you can work on to make yourself more important to your team.”
Luca Sbisa was the Flyers' first round choice (19th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. (Getty Images)
Giroux, van Riemsdyk, Sbisa

Another important aspect of the camp is not only the on-ice development at work, but also learning about the organization itself: who your teammates are and forming a bond with a whole new crop of players and coaches.

One particular player who was anxious to arrive in town was the Flyers’ top pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Luca Sbisa, who found it very exciting to be in a new city and out there with a new group of potential teammates.

“I’m very happy that I got picked 19th overall by Philadelphia,” said Sbisa. “I have a great impression here. All of the great guys, we had a great practice and now we’ll see where I am at and how the other players are.”

“You don’t really realize it yet,” added Sbisa. “You get here, in a new environment, there are a lot of new impressions, but I think that will calm as the time goes by and I’m going to enjoy every moment.”

Enjoying every moment is something that rookie forward Claude Giroux is looking towards not just in this camp, but Flyers training camp in the fall, where he fully expects to be a serious contender and break into the Flyers lineup for the upcoming 2008-09 season.

Claude Giroux in his NHL debut on February 19, 2008 in Ottawa. (Getty Images)
“I’m going to go to camp with the mentality that I want to make the team,” said Giroux. “I’ll go there, work hard, play my game and see what will happen.”

Giroux received a small taste of life in the NHL with a two-game stint last season, making his NHL debut on February 19, against the Ottawa Senators.

“It was only two games, but I learned so much in those two games,” stated Giroux. “I talk a lot with [Danny] Briere and Simon Gagne and all of them. I learned so much and I know more of what I can expect for next season.”

Day Two will have the group of young Flyers prospects see much of the same as far as ice time and condition, with the addition of a possible scrimmage following their morning skate.

Desjardins skates with prospects

Still in his first full week after being named to the Club as Player Development Coach, former Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins took to the ice today with the prospects.

“There’s a lot of talent,” said Desjardins when asked about his impressions of day one in camp. “There are a lot of kids that want to do well and get better. They all have a dream and I think that’s my role, to help them realize that dream.”

Desjardins returns to the team where he spent 11 seasons on the blueline and retired as a Flyer after the 2005-06 season.

“I knew I was going to be a Flyer forever, but I didn’t know what was coming,” laughed Desjardins, when asked if he always knew he would come back to be a coach in the organization. “I stayed in touch here with Paul [Holmgren] and a few guys, and Paul just wanted me to come back. We had a meeting and he offered me the position and I accepted with pleasure. It’s a great honor that they think about me.”

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