Even with nothing guaranteed, it’s beginning to feel a lot like hockey season.
Tuesday marked the first day of informal skates at Raleigh Center Ice, and a group of 16 Hurricanes players participated in the 50-minute, player-organized workout.
Day one attendees included forwards Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Chad LaRose, Jiri Tlusty, Patrick Dwyer, Anthony Stewart, Andreas Nodl, Zac Dalpe and Jared Staal; defensemen Tim Gleason, Jay Harrison, Joe Corvo, Joni Pitkanen and Justin Faulk; and goaltenders Cam Ward and Justin Peters.
LaRose and Harrison seemed to be the vocal leaders for the majority of the skate, which was mainly comprised of skating and conditioning drills. The goal of these early workouts, more than anything, is to regain skating legs and timing.
The first day of informal skates – known as Camp Brind’Amour in the past, and now, perhaps, Camp LaRose – brings together for the first time of the upcoming hockey season a number of players who scatter across the globe for the summer months.
Faulk and Nodl spent the summer in Minnesota. Dwyer in Wisconsin. Harrison, Dalpe and Peters in Ontario. Corvo, right here in Raleigh. And Jordan Staal was all over the place doing, well, “everything” as he said: he had his wedding, he was traded and signed a long-term deal with Carolina, he went to many other weddings, he had his honeymoon, he went house hunting in Raleigh and he took a humanitarian trip to Haiti with former Pittsburgh Penguins teammates. Now, his attention turns back to hockey.
Many players again said their summers were too long. Dalpe played well into May in 2011 with the Charlotte Checkers in their run to the Eastern Conference Final, returning to Raleigh just about three months later. This summer, he was done playing in April, tacking on a couple, more unwelcome months to his offseason.
Listed at 230 pounds last season, Stewart dropped 10 pounds over the summer, fueled in part by his participation at last week's BioSteel Camp. Video from the camp is available here, here, here and here. Stewart is the final season of a two-year contract he signed with the Canes in July 2011.
Ward and Peters were both breaking in new gear. Peters said he likes his pads to be soft, so breaking them in is always a challenge. With Brian Boucher sidelined with a shoulder injury, Peters figures to be Ward’s back-up to begin the season.
With training camp scheduled to begin about a week after the current collective bargaining agreement, some players were unsure about plans in the event of a work stoppage. Whether it’s here or somewhere else, they'll likely continue skating until a deal gets finalized. Corvo said he skated three times a week during the 2004-05 lockout, before joining the Chicago Wolves of the AHL in February.
Informal skates are slated to continue each weekday beginning at 10:30 a.m. at RCI.