July 14, 2006(TORONTO) --
It's not typical hockey weather, but for 14 Toronto Maple Leafs prospects it was still a great time to be at Air Canada Centre.
Friday was the last day of the 2006 Prospects Camp. The camp gives the future Leafs a chance to learn about the city, meet the other prospects in the organization and get on and off-ice instruction from the coaches.
"It's been awesome," said Jamie Sifers who played three games with the Marlies last year. "I got a chance to meet a lot of good guys and learn a lot of things from the strength coaches and the coaches on the ice."
|Chad Rau takes a break on Friday. |
The main reason for the camp is to prepare the youngsters for obstacles that they may go through on their way to the NHL.
"We are concerned with their character, the psychology of performance, their understanding of the media," said Paul Dennis, Maple Leafs player development coach. "All of these things can be adversity if they're not prepared, so it's one thing to handle adversity and deal with it, but what we hope to do is by exposing them to these variables that can impact on their performance and there is a way to deal with it and as an organization that is what we are looking for."
It was a week full of seminars, team bonding and even a cooking class.
"I wasn't sure what to expect, but I got a lot out of the week," said Chad Rau who was at his first camp. "The cooking class was pretty neat. It was neat especially since I live on my own at school. I have to prepare my own meals so any extra tips are helpful."
While the players have many fond memories of the camp, Dennis will have a lasting impression after Thursday's workout.
"The best bonding that I've seen with this group was yesterday when they had a rigorous test where they have to push themselves skating and then we test their blood," he said. "The support that they gave each other, the encouragement, the cheering that was the best bonding that I've seen in a long time."
After the camp, Dennis will keep an eye on the North American prospects throughout the year and make sure that they are putting all the good tips from the camp to good use during the season.
"I will go and watch and meet with them and meet with their coaches and all the things that we've identified will be discussed with them and that's how we find out if they have a clear understanding of what we're trying to teach," he said.
The players will now return to their respective hometowns and prepare for the upcoming training camp. The prospects will try and put what they have learned to good use as they one day hope to pull on the Maple Leafs jersey.