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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Written by a Beginner.

Day one of camp is over and boy am I tired…and sore.

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Who would have thought that I would be spent just getting dressed in the locker room?

Between the elbow/forearm pads, the shin guards, the helmet, the gloves, the butt pads and the chest protector, it took me like 30 minutes just to get dressed.

Two quick thoughts on my equipment: a) the butt pads are by far the most important piece of equipment that I wore today, more on that later…and b) I love the chest protector, it makes my chest look awesome. I think I am going to start wearing it in non-hockey related situations, i.e. when out on dates, going to work, and well, every waking moment of the day. Either that or get a gym membership.

All that equipment made me look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters...except for the Chest Protector, I liked that.

I am glad I arrived early since it did take me that said 30 minutes to get all of my equipment on…and when I did, I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the original Ghostbusters.

All of the equipment was supplied by Hockey Giant and was included in the cost of the clinic.

As soon as I get on the ice and started motoring around the rink, the arches of my feet begin to ache and I think to myself, “self, maybe my skates are too small.”

Talking to a couple of the guys, apparently my skates have not been baked. I will look into getting this done before our next practice, but I do know for a fact, that I do not have to go to Hollywood video and rent Half Baked to accomplish this task…it is all about heating the skates and forming them to your feet.

Kings color analyst Daryl Evans is the lead instructor in the clinic. There are about 50 people signed up, all shapes and sizes, males and females, young and old. In addition, there are a few Toyota Sports Center instructors and of course Bailey.

Bailey is a good skater. I guess I never really paid attention before, but you’d have to be a good skater to do what Bailey does and Bailey is good at it.

I however, am not, that is why I am there in camp.

Also in camp is a guy named Zeiler, seriously, Zeiler is written on the back of his jersey. No it is not John Zeiler, he was sent back to Manchester earlier in the day, that is just this participant’s last name…no relation either, apparently, so no discount!

There is also a guy named Fell and I find that extremely ironic. In this instance, I think Fell should be written on the back of my jersey.

Our first practice was underway around 7:45 p.m. on Sunday night…unfortunately, I will have to miss both The Simpsons and most likely Family Guy as well. Thank god for DVR!

An hour in length, Daryl made it clear that this first practice would be all about skating, in fact, we never even brought out the pucks today, which is fine by me. Baby steps.

We skated from end to end after being divided into about eight groups. Thankfully, I was assigned to Group No. 2, so I get to watch others go before it is my turn.

After about two laps I was already sweating and my face was flush red…I was not alone in this. I think that benches should be set on each end of the ice during this drill.

We skated across the ice roughly 20 times in an attempt to learn different skating skills. One time we emphasized creating our edge. Others included moving the skates in and out, starting with the heals and making a circle to the toe and back again. We skated doing half circles around the face off circles and we attempted to lift our right leg first and then our left leg while keeping our balance and not falling.

One of the hardest things we did was bending one knee to scrape the ice and then popping up. I think 92.4 % of the class stumbled on this…I certainly did. It is all about balance and keeping your head up and bending your knees, it is almost like doing a knee bend on Ice. Michael Cammalleri is very good at this, he likes to go down on one knee a lot on his one-timers.

If it is good enough for Cammy, it is good enough for me.

Evans yelled once “this is not ballet class,” I don’t remember what this was in reference to but I remember him saying it and then thinking about “Save the Last Dance” starring Julia Stiles.

I then remember telling myself to focus and that there is no reason I should know of any movie about ballet. 

We continued to work hard on the ice and we moved to my favorite drill of the evening, doing a superman-like dive at center ice…interestingly, I had already mastered the art of falling on the ice during our previous exercises, so I was already a pro at belly flopping on the ice.

Nonetheless, we were instructed to dive on our stomachs head first and then pop up. I like this drill, there is little pressure because we are supposed to fall and falling is easy.

Finally, we learned to stop at the end. This is something that I think is the most important, for obvious reasons…I think I would have liked to have learned this whole stopping thing FIRST, would have saved some bruises.

Regardless, it was a great first day. I felt I improved my skating from the beginning of the class to the end. I think I will try and hit up some of the open skates at Toyota Sports Center this week in preparation for next Sunday’s session.

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