The various areas of study in which Guy Boucher holds prestigious degrees of academia perhaps don’t give the Tampa Bay Lightning head coach enough credit.
Among them are degrees in sports psychology, history, environmental biology and biosystems engineering.
Chemistry is not on the list, but ask around the team dressing room, and it is not long into any conversation during which a Lightning player will admit that Boucher is pretty knowledgeable on that subject too.
Team chemistry, that is.
The Bolts open training camp at Germain Arena in Estero today, and with at least five new faces in the locker room this season, it will be imperative for the team to collectively come together and instantly form strong relationships both on and off the ice.
But because of a league-imposed lockout that lasted for approximately four months from September until the beginning of January, time is short.
To accelerate the process, Boucher and the coaching staff have planned a series of activities for the team to participate in while down in Estero, including beach volleyball, golf, and a team dinner.
Fowards Teddy Purcell and Vincent Lecavalier discuss a drill during Sunday's opening day of Training Camp.
Traditionally, team-bonding activities are commonplace on Lightning road trips, but with a shortened season, the emphasis on getting to know one another on a more personal level is heightened.
“It’s going to be huge, especially with this odd season coming up,” defenseman Victor Hedman said. “It’s definitely important for us to have fun with it and have a good camp so we’re ready to open up the season on Saturday.”
Limited to just a 48-game schedule, a slow start could be perilous for the Lightning, while affording the club little time to recover. Getting off to a fast start, however, would propel any team ahead of the pack and drum up some momentum that could even lead to a lengthy and advantageous winning streak.
“Those 48 games allow a lot of time for a lot of ups and downs,” Boucher said. “We can’t afford to hit a lull for too long otherwise we’ll probably be out of it. So, there’s definitely going to be urgency from the first period of the first game until the last period of the last game. Every game just means so much.”
As does getting to know one another.