The Tampa Bay Lightning opened up their 17th training camp today at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum. Things started early with the first buses leaving the Embassy Suites Downtown around 7:30 a.m. Upon arrival at the Ice Sports Forum players were subject to a series of off-ice testing that included bloodwork, EKG, eye and dental exams, body fat testing and more.
At 10 a.m. the first players hit the ice to officially begin the 2009-10 season. The players were then put through a rigorous series of timed on-ice skating tests. Though it was grueling, it wasn't all bad.
"I'm still standing," defenseman Matt Smaby said. "So wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be."
Apart from the testing was the overall feeling of a new beginning in 2009-10. Players met and mingled while also greeting the coaching staff. Those who have played before together shared stories of the summer. Yet still the overall feeling was of things to come.
"We're really optimistic for this season," Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. "This camp is the foundation for everything that will happen this season and today was a great start. I can't wait to put some pucks on the ice tomorrow."
The Lightning's alternate captain echoed the same sentiment.
"Nobody in that locker room was happy about last year," Martin St. Louis
said. "We need to learn from it use it as motivation this season. I'm excited to get back to work."