Today marks the official first day of training camp, although there won’t be too much excitement to report unless you’re a big fan of physicals and headshots.
Headshots actually keep me pretty busy as I have to put all the new ones on the site. That means it's time to say goodbye to Tuomo Ruutu's post-facial-injury classic from last year. We'll also see if Drayson Bowman cracks a smile this year, although I doubt it. Every headshot I've seen of him looks pretty much just like that.
As far as the physicals go, you should probably hope there isn’t any big news resulting from those – we’ve gotten off to quite a start on the injury front already.
The on-ice activities aren’t scheduled to start until tomorrow, although practices will be closed to the public due to the NC State/ECU football game going on across the parking lot. There’s a morning practice on Sunday that’s closed to the public as well, but you’ll be able to see the much more exciting Red/White game at 3 p.m. after the Caniac Carnival (all free of charge to you, the fan). The rest of camp will be wide open with the lone exception of another Saturday NC State game on the 27th, so feel free to come on out if you so choose.
Once the team does hit the ice, they’ll be looking to repeat the success of last year’s camp, which GM Jim Rutherford called one of the best he’s seen in his 14 years as a general manager.
”I thought Peter [Laviolette] did an exceptionally good job of including everybody in to run the camp, including Ronnie [Francis] on the ice and different things like that,” said Rutherford
Since the Canes ended up missing the playoffs that year, the correlation between a good camp and a good season isn’t so strong. It does seem to have an influence on how the team fares coming out of the gate, however.
Training camps in 2005 and 2007 were generally regarded as good camps, and the team got through October with starts of 8-2-1
, respectively – each good for 17 points. The post-championship 2006 training camp wasn’t very good, and neither were the Canes in October after going winless in their first four games and finishing the month at .500.
”We might as well not have even have had training camp,” said Rutherford
at the conclusion of of the 2006-07 season.
There’s no question that getting a good start helps though, as last year’s team proved that every single point counts. The focus this year will be on getting that momentum and maintaining it through the entire year.
“Training camp last year, if you look back at it, training camp was terrific,” said Laviolette. “We had a great training camp, we won games, the guys played hard, practiced hard, we were in good shape, we started the season real well.
”We hit a November, December and half of January skid where I think we played four or five games under .500 for too long of a time," he added. "It cost us. It wasn’t training camp, it wasn’t the start of the year, and it certainly wasn’t the end of the year. It was that middle blow that kind of did us in.”