Revamped for this year, the Carolina Hurricanes Prospects Development Camp aims to hone the various details of players’ games.
The focus Wednesday evening was skating. Enter Kim Muir, who led two groups through powerskating lessons as players lunged, hopped and pulled each other down the ice.
“I’m not teaching basic skills out here. I’m teaching high-end skating for the game,” Muir said. “We try to make sure we teach the kids how to do the drills without the puck, with the puck or in game situations.”
Muir hails from the suburbs of Detroit, where she grew up with in a hockey family. Her dad coached and refereed, and her brother played college hockey at Minnesota. She took up figure skating.
“I would tell my brothers, ‘You should try this move and that move’ because as figure skaters, we’re taught technically how to skate,” she said. “Of course, them being 10-12 years older than I am, they were like, ‘Whatever, Kim.”
When Muir was 15, she was approached by a hockey coach who wanted her to teach his team how to skate.
Today, she packs 21 years of powerskating instruction under her belt and has worked with the Detroit Red Wings and Plymouth Whalers (OHL), among other teams and clients. She also led the Charlotte Checkers in a few midseason lessons in 2012-13.
“Having new guys, it’s great to inspire them,” she said. “The gratification is the instant ‘Ah-ha!’ moment that they see why they would use [a certain move].”
“She really wants you to take your time with things, but at the same time take those things forward and maybe use them in a game,” said defenseman Austin Levi, who has worked with Muir in Plymouth. “You’re honing skills, and I think that’s something they’re trying to do at camp here.”
Muir said she has trained with Canes defenseman Tim Gleason since he was a teenager.
“To have them back then, see them develop, grow, succeed and do well is gratifying, and it’s an honor to be a part of their life,” Muir said.
A number of the 26 prospects in town for this week’s camp have had powerskating lessons before, with Muir or otherwise.
Wednesday was goaltender Daniel Altshuller’s first time working with Muir but not his first time doing powerskating. He and the two other goaltenders at camp – Charlie Millen and Collin Olson – completed the drills in full equipment.
“Sometimes you look a little goofy, but it helps out with our balance,” Altshuller said. “Sometimes you get in those tight situations where maybe you have to throw in a twirl or two to make a save.”
Powerskating training is different than running standard drills in practice, but that’s the point; it forces players to think about and approach their skating in a new manner.
“It takes you out of your comfort zone a little,” Altshuller said. “When that happens you can either just throw it out the window and say, ‘Yeah, I can’t do that,’ or you give it a try. Sometimes you can surprise yourself.”
“Your legs feel it a lot more,” said Brody Sutter, who worked with Muir in Charlotte. “As long as you stay focused, you can get a lot out of it.”
Including sore muscles the next morning.
“Oh, definitely,” Levi said. “The groins will be a little sore tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
“They should be [sore],” Muir said. “If not, we’ll do it again.”
Muir said she plans to lead more powerskating instruction at the Hurricanes and Checkers training camps in September. Becoming a more refined skater through powerskating is accomplished through repetition, she said.
“Through performance comes confidence,” she said. “You need to have someone tell you, technically, what you’re doing right and wrong.”
Muir concludes each powerskating session with a hug for each player, something that never ceases to elicit a smile.
“[Hugs] are free, right? When you make a connection with someone, that’s what it’s all about,” Muir said. “If that’s what connects you and you make them feel good, then you had a great day.”