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Lessons Learned at 2009 Lightning Young Guns Camp

by Brian Breseman / Tampa Bay Lightning
For players looking to make the next step in their hockey careers the 2009 Lightning Young Guns Camp was the perfect way to learn from the coaches and develop their game as they go into next season. During the last seven days Tampa Bay’s top prospects have been put through a rigorous schedule of lessons both on and off the ice with the goal of developing the organization’s top young talent.

“This was a great week for the Tampa Bay Lightning as we were able to host 25 of our prospects for a week of pure player development,” Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton said. “I am extremely pleased by the efforts of some of the players which include Victor Hedman, Carter Ashton, Alexander Killorn, Dana Tyrell, Dustin Toskarski and Ty Wishart, and I was more specifically thrilled with the efforts of our entire staff. The on-ice development was tremendous while the off-ice class room sessions and strength and conditioning work outs were amazing. Together it made for another positive step for the Lightning as we move closer to a new season.”

Prospects prepare for a meeting inside the Lightning locker room.

Players went through two on-ice sessions each day of the camp, with the exception of the final day. Along with the on-ice workouts the players also went through daily sessions in the gym with Lightning Strength and Conditioning Coach Chuck Lobe and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Kevin Zeigler. Tampa Bay Assistant Coach Wes Walz also conducted video sessions with the players twice a day to demonstrate how the Lightning want them to model their games. With the wealth of information and teaching provided at the camp the players are probably due for a rest, both physically and mentally.

“The entire camp went great,” said Walz, who ran the camp. “Hopefully all the players will take what they learned this past week and apply it to their training this summer. Attending this camp should certainly help each player as they enter their training camps for next season, no matter where they may be in their careers.”

Lightning prospects participate in an off-ice workout during the 2009 Young Guns Camp.

The Young Guns Camp concluded on Wednesday and the players packed up their gear for the trip home, they should be able to carry a lot more than just a hockey bag home with them. The players were not only given the opportunity to show what they were made of on the ice, they were given the knowledge of how to train and pay attention to the details like a member of the Lightning.

“I’ve been involved in a number of these over the last 10-12 years and to see the development aspect as well as the commitment these kids have put in with their work ethic and attitude, I thought it was fantastic,” Lightning Player Development and Defense Coach Jim Johnson said. “They got a lot of information, a lot of skill development, a lot of training off the ice and I think for their overall development and where they are at this time of the summer, it should give them a good jump start to prepare for training camp.”

Goaltending Coach Cap Raeder talks to goaltenders Dustin Tokarski (left) and Riku Helenius (right).

It was an interesting dynamic for the players, some of whom will return to their junior or college teams while others will report to the Lightning’s main training camp in September. Veterans like Ty Wishart who has a few professional seasons under his belt, not to mention a handful of games with Tampa Bay last season, can provide leadership for players who may be trying to reach that level next year.

“You can sort of tell the way veterans like Wishart carry themselves,” Lightning Goaltending Coach Cap Raeder said. “That’s part of developing into a leader. Guys who have played in the American League need to have respect for the young kids and bring them along on and off the ice. It’s really worked well the whole camp. Its been a great teaching tool on both sides.”

As the Lightning continue to build the depth of their organization, camps like the 2009 Lightning Young Guns Camp will prove to be invaluable in building the organization through young talent. For the players, as long as they do their part and continue to develop the Lightning way, they should find themselves in a Lightning uniform soon.
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