|Bergenheim and Campoli reunite |
It's been 146 days since the Islanders last played, and now it's only 22 days until the 2007-08 season kicks off. Before that happens, the Islanders will travel up to Moncton, New Brunswick to partake in their 2007 Training Camp.
On Thursday morning, Camp opened with the entire organization convening at the Nassau Coliseum for some physical and psychological testing prior to flying the 750-plus miles up to Moncton.
"The goal for our staff is to give the players the best medical coverage possible," said Garrett Timms, the Islanders' head athletic trainer. "We do this by putting them through the best tests available to discover any pre-existing conditions or injuries that need to be taken care of. We look for anything we need to be aware of during the year, so we can provide them with the best treatment during the season. The physical testing is to see where they are at the beginning of the season. We compare it to last year to see the progress of their training. We try to be on the cutting edge of new technology as far as testing procedures."
While the testing wasn't too grueling, there was a substantial amount of down time, giving the players ample opportunity to catch up with each other, some of whom hadn't seen each other since the end of last season. One player who was especially excited to be back was Sean Bergenheim, who returns to the Islanders after spending time in the Russian SuperLeague and Swedish Elite League last season.
"It's great to see everyone," said Bergenheim. "It doesn't even feel like I've been away for a year. The atmosphere is great here this year. I like the guys they've brought in this year, they're good additions."
One of those additions is pivot Mike Comrie, who was part of Garth Snow's summer splurge that saw the signing of Bill Guerin, Comrie, Ruslan Fedotenko and Jon Sim within a week.
"I'm looking forward to this new challenge," said Comrie. "Everyone here has been very welcoming. I can't wait to get things started up in Moncton."
Guerin, who was named as Islanders captain, stayed longer than needed at the Coliseum, just to get himself acquainted better with his teammates and the staff. While walking through the arena, which had been set up for a concert earlier this week, Guerin couldn't help but notice the removal of the Stanley Cup banners from the rafters. It was certainly a strange sight, but don't worry, they'll be back up in no time.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of good news to go around with Rick DiPietro
back in top shape and the reactivation of Radek Martinek from the injured reserve.
With most of the players healthy, it meant only one thing – stricter competition for the final lineup spots. Even forward Jeff Tambellini remarked on the number of quality defensemen at Camp.
"We already had a solid group of defensemen from last year," noted Tambellini. "But now we've added Sutton and Johnson, who played almost an entire season with Columbus last year. Add the potential of signing (Bryan) Berard and we have eight or nine NHL defensemen. It's going to be a battle."
Tambellini will also have some stiff competition at the forward position as he, along with a few other young players, attempts to crack the Islanders lineup to begin the season.
With coat bags and carry-on luggage in hand, the 59 players boarded the charter to Moncton with hopes of getting the new season off to a good start.
"We're all anxious to get going," said Guerin. "There are a lot of new guys and we're looking forward to the team bonding up in Moncton."