By Jason Lockhart
|Photo by Rich Stieglitz |
With a new head coach comes a new setup at Training Camp. At Tim Horton's 4 Ice Plex, the three Islanders squads took to the ice Monday with Scott Gordon leading his up-tempo practices on Day One.
"Overall, I think today all of the players grasped the system we were trying to implement," said Gordon, following five straight hours of practice. "But like the beginning of Rookie Camp I thought there was some indecisiveness. I think tomorrow we'll be even cleaner."
The 60 players at Camp are broken down into three squads, with two teams consisting of the veterans from the Islanders––Team Nystrom and Team Morrow. The veterans— those players with one-way NHL contracts —have been split between Team Nystrom and Team Morrow, while Team Trottier consisted of many of the team's younger prospects. Colored jerseys broke down the lines for each team.
Featured on Team Nystrom was a four-man line of Bill Guerin, Doug Weight, Kyle Okposo
and Jon Sim, who all sported red jerseys. Donning the gray jerseys were Richard Park, Sean Bergenheim and Andy Hilbert.
"Kyle has great skill," said Weight. "He's a really talented player who is strong on the puck and has a quick release. What I like best about him is his willingness to learn and his desire to be great. Kyle has that tenacity when he's holding onto the puck."
On defense for Team Nystrom were Radek Martinek and Brendan Witt, who paired up for much of the practice. Chris Campoli saw time with newcomer Mark Streit
|Photo by Rich Stieglitz |
For Team Morrow, Trent Hunter wore a red jersey along with Jeff Tambellini and Frans Nielsen
. First-round draft pick Josh Bailey
played on a line with Mike Comrie and Blake Comeau.
"I think those of us at the Rookie Camp last week had a little bit of a head start because we were used to the style of practice that Gordon runs," said Bailey, who is attending his first Training Camp. It was really fun playing out there with the guys. We'll get better once we get to know each other more."
The defensive pairings included Andy Sutton with Freddy Meyer and Bruno Gervais with Brett Skinner, who signed in the off-season. Notes and Quotes from Training Camp
- As many people know, Doug Weight and Bill Guerin are close friends from their World Cup, Olympic, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers days. The two reunited on the ice today to add a bit of lightness to the intense practice.
"The two of them have been yapping at each other all practice," said linemate Kyle Okposo
. "Some of the younger guys are nervous out there and they're doing a good job of bringing up the mood."
- Rick DiPietro is back and looking like his old self again. DP told Newsday's Greg Logan, "Make sure you put in your article I'm excited for the start of the season."
- Training Camp is not just for young players trying to win a spot on the roster. Islanders legend Bobby Nystrom—who traveled to Moncton to watch the team get ready for the new season—is attending his first training camp since he retired in 1986. While watching the first practice session, he marveled at the speed of today’s game.
“Now the guys come in here in such incredible shape,” said Nystrom. “It’s absolutely amazing. They work out all year and it’s a lot more scientific than when we played. We used to take some time off, just as a refresher. But nowadays it’s really a full year job.”
As Nystrom observed the practice, he commented on how good today’s goaltenders are. In fact, because of how good goalies have gotten, Nystrom said he would have made one major change to his own game. He would have strapped on a helmet.
“In today’s environment with goaltending the way that it is, everyone shoots high, because the have to,” said Nystrom, who played all 14 of his NHL seasons with the Islanders. “I wouldn’t be out there without a helmet, I definitely would protect myself.”
- Along with Doug Weight, defenseman Mark Streit is making his Islanders debut and saw time with Chris Campoli.
"Mark is a highly skilled player," said Campoli about Streit. "He moves the puck well and is a smart skater. That's essential for the new NHL. He's going to fit in well.
"I'm really excited about being with the Islanders," said Streit. "Right now I'm just trying to get back in game shape and meet the guys. This place in Moncton is a perfect setup for Training Camp with all of the rinks."
Some may remember that Streit was a member of Team Switzerland during the 2006 Winter Olympics that stunned the hockey world when it knocked off both Canada and the Czech Republic. Sending NHL players to the Olympics may stop following the conclusion of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, but Streit is hoping it continues.
"I think a lot of NHL players want to keep going to the Olympics," said Streit. "It's the best hockey out there. It was a fun experience and it's going to be great to play in Vancouver."
- Ken Morrow has been to more than his fair share of Training Camps and had this to say about his first impression of Scott Gordon's skate.
"It's more teaching than anything else," said Morrow. "But that's to be expected with any new coach.
- Chief European Scout Veli-Pekka Kautonen had this to say about 2006 Draft pick Jesse Joensuu.
"His skating has really improved over the past year," said Kautonen. "He's been working with a couple of specialists, including a former speed skater in Finland to work on his stride, and it's really shown. He's always had the skill and the smarts, but now his skating is coming along as well. There's no reason he can't get even faster the next few years, since he is only turning 21 next month."
ITV: Training Camp Blog - Doug Weight
- Scott Zimmerman, Dan Nemcheck, Dan Bressler, Artem Agafonov––the creators of the popular and funny segment, The 2 Man Advantage, are on the scene in Moncton. Watch Islanders TV next month for their features from Training Camp. Click here to see their latest work.
- The center talks about his first day of Camp with the Islanders More form Moncton:
- Players Arrive in Moncton
- Training Camp Primer, Part 1: Defensemen and Goalies
- Training Camp Primer, Part 2: Forwards