It’s the time of year again that hockey fans wait all summer for: the start of training camp. Camp officially started Friday with players being put through medicals and off-ice testing. These days, testing is more of a formality due to the tremendous condition players keep themselves in year-round. For veteran players, it is a chance to improve on last year’s scores, and for rookies, it is a way to prove how hard you worked over the summer. With so few jobs available, it is a great way for a bubble player to get noticed. If he comes to camp in top shape, that may entice the coaches to give him a longer look.
The hardest test is the Wingate: an all-out sprint test on a bike that measures your anaerobic power. Upon completion, your lungs are on fire, legs are burning, and just getting off the bike can prove troublesome. People wonder how Marty St. Louis can continue to play at such a high level and a big reason is his level of conditioning. There is such a small difference in talent level between NHL players, one way to separate yourself from the pack is an elite level of conditioning.
The on-ice session started Saturday morning at 10am with both teams, the Blue and White, practicing for about 45 minutes. Practice was high tempo, consisting of 2 on 1’s, 3-2’s, and 3-2’s with a back checker. The overall speed of the players and practice was impressive and made me tired just watching. The guys then got a quick break while the ice was cleaned before resuming the action. After the flood, there was a scrimmage on one side of the ice and a practice on the other. Practice consisted of mostly veteran players: St. Louis, Malone, Thompson, Brewer, Stamkos, Downie, Lecavalier, etc. The scrimmage consisted of mostly younger guys trying to get noticed, with a few veterans sprinkled in. Team Blue came away the winners with a 3-1 win, with an empty net goal. Off-ice workouts followed the ice sessions.
A player’s best friend during training camp is the team masseuse, and a cold tub to keep his legs from getting too stiff and sore. Training camp resumes tomorrow morning at 10am on the ice at The Brandon Ice Sports Forum. Players will be wearing the new team uniforms, which looked pretty sharp today!