Two weeks after hearing their names called by Hall of Famer Ron Francis
at First Niagara Center in Buffalo at the 2016 NHL Draft, defenseman Jake Bean
and forward Julien Gauthier
are among the 27 Carolina Hurricanes prospects in town for the organization’s annual Prospects Development Camp.
This week is their first glimpse of life as a professional hockey player in the NHL.
“It was a really cool experience for me, one me and my family really enjoyed. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity,” Bean said of being drafted 13th overall. “I know there’s quite a process to go, so I’m just trying to take it all in.”
“It’s exciting, but I’m not that nervous. I’m just enjoying what I’m seeing here,” Gauthier said after his first day on the ice. “Of course there’s a little bit of pressure with the status of a first-rounder, but it doesn’t matter. We all have a chance, and we’ll work hard to try to prove ourselves.”
The four days of development camp are packed with on-ice instruction and off-ice seminars. They’ll learn about the team’s on-ice systems, best practices for nutrition and cooking, leadership, the organization’s core values and more.
“Determination. Commitment. Compete,” Bean said when asked what he had learned after day one. “I feel like I’m surrounded by a lot of good people here.”
“When you see all the pictures on the wall,” Gauthier said, eyeing captures of some of the most iconic moments in Hurricanes history, “it’s pretty amazing.”
Those moments – playoff overtime victories, a big save in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, the victory parade – are what Bean, Gauthier and the others in the Hurricanes' dressing room aspire to. It’s a process of training and learning that begins in development camp.
“I train as hard as I can to be ready [for the NHL] as soon as possible, but it’s a process,” Gauthier said. “I’m working hard to do it this year. I want to give myself a chance.”
“It’s all about development and being exposed to the Hurricanes values and what they think is important as a team,” Bean said.
Defenseman Haydn Fleury, the Canes’ seventh overall pick in 2014, knew both Bean and Gauthier coming into the week; Bean, a member of the Calgary Hitmen, is a fellow Western Hockey League defenseman, and Gauthier and Fleury were teammates on Canada’s World Junior squad.
“I was excited,” Fleury said. “Knowing both the guys that got drafted is a pretty cool thing. Not many times do you get to go to a camp like this and know people you’ve played with in the past.”
Fleury, a third-year veteran of development camp, is the big brother of sorts for the two rookies and others making their first camp appearances.
“He’s going to lead the way for these kids this week,” Canes head coach Bill Peters said. “He did a good job here today, and he’ll continue to do that the rest of the week.”
“It flies by. I can still remember my first camp. It’s pretty cool to be the older guy here,” Fleury said. “Lots of guys asked how hard fitness testing was and that kind of stuff. … They hadn’t been on the ice with Bill Peters yet, so I just said to be ready to skate because he doesn’t waste too much time. Just those little pieces of advice.”
And the first practice? It was an up-tempo skate filled with various drills and little time spent at the whiteboard. It capped off a long day that began when the sun rose and continued through fitness testing, off-ice meetings and meals at the arena.
“It’s nice to get the kinks out and get used to the coaching style,” Bean said after day one. “It was a really high-paced practice. The guys had really good communication out there, so it was a good first one.”
“It was a pretty long day,” Gauthier said. “Practice was high-intensity, but it was pretty good to get the legs going.”
Prospects Development Camp will conclude on Saturday with the final on-ice session of the week slated for noon. Shortly after, Bean, Gauthier and company will again scatter across the globe, armed with the knowledge and tools they require to one day be successful in the NHL.
“All the seminars they go to, the cooking, the leadership, the things that we’re all about as an organization, making sure you have the imprint of the DNA of a Carolina Hurricane when you leave here. Understand how we do things and treat people, and do it right,” Peters said. “If you’re paying attention and alert, you’ll take a lot of good things away and make yourself a better player and a better person.”
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email