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China Games blog: Derek Ryan

Flames forward, who played for new coach Peters with Hurricanes, helps acclimate teammates during practice

by Derek Ryan / Special to NHL.com

Calgary Flames forward Derek Ryan will be keeping his own blog throughout the 2018 O.R.G. NHL China Games

Ryan, 31, is entering his first season with the Flames. In his second entry, Ryan writes about Calgary's first time on the ice under new coach Bill Peters. The Flames will play the Boston Bruins on Saturday (2:30 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN), in the first of two preseason games.
 

SHENZHEN, China -- It was nice to get on the ice today after having the unexpected day off yesterday. It was great to get out there and get our first practice together, to finally get this thing going officially.

More than that, though, it looked like an experience for the other guys who aren't experienced yet with how Bill Peters runs a practice. 

Bill is all about fast pace and he expects you to be able to pick up stuff pretty quickly. There's not a lot of time for a water break or catching your breath. It's a quick practice, which is good. I think guys appreciate that. You practice how you play.

 

[RELATED: China Games blog: Brad Marchand | Full NHL China Games coverage]

 

It was funny, though, because there was definitely a lot of confusion at first before the guys picked up what Bill wanted us to do in the drills. It started in the room before practice when Bill, who didn't have a whiteboard, was talking about the first couple of drills, going over them with just words, not pictures. He spits them out and guys were looking around like, what is he talking about?

I could feel a sense of panic after the meeting was over because nobody wants to screw up a drill in front of their new coach on the first day. 

These are drills I'm, of course, familiar with having played for Bill previously, especially with the Carolina Hurricanes. Myself, along with [center] Elias Lindholm and [defenseman] Noah Hanifin, the three former Hurricanes on our team, had to start a lot of the drills and make sure guys knew what they were doing. It wasn't that we were pushed to the front of the line, but we all naturally were gravitating toward the first rep to make sure guys knew what to do, so they could follow us.

Usually, when a guy sees it once or watches a breakdown of it once on a whiteboard, he can pick it up pretty quickly, but Bill has this repertoire of drills that he has names for and he doesn't like to go to the whiteboard often, so you have to be able to pick all of it up quickly and run with it. 

The other thing is Bill talks really fast, and it takes you a while pick up what he's saying. I remember as a call-up in Carolina, when you're already pretty nervous for practice, going out there and hearing him spitting out all this lingo -- he's got his own terminology for a lot of stuff he's looking for in specific drills -- and being worried that I would mess it up. I found myself at the back of the line a lot before figuring out what was going on. 

I've told a lot of our guys now that when you figure out the different names for drills and the terminology he's using it becomes no big deal, but it was entertaining to see the guys panic a bit. 

But we got in our practice and it was a good one. I think the guys got a lot out of it, but playing a game tomorrow after one practice is going to be interesting.

It's not exactly ideal to play a game after one practice, especially on a team with a new coach and a lot of new players. Bill is trying to convey all the new systems, forecheck and neutral zone, power play and penalty kill. We covered it all today, but how can you master that in one practice? You can't. That's why it's preseason. Let's see if we can implement it in the game and learn from it. You've got to make it work.

Off the ice, I can't say I've had my one China experience or China moment yet because it's only been a couple days, but the service here is just unbelievable. There are like 10 servers for one person in the restaurant or wherever you are. I remember the first meal, we just got in, we were kind of late and the server is putting my napkin on my lap for me. It felt a little awkward, but it speaks to the service they have here. It's cool to see that part of the culture.

I'm very much looking forward to going to The Great Wall of China on Monday. We're in a big city here and will be in Beijing too, so I'm curious and excited to see what is outside the big cities, the countryside. That's more what I like and enjoy about the U.S. and Canada, being out of the big cities and in the countryside. I'm excited to see that in China.

For now, though, a few of us are going to go to the main market here to check it out and do some haggling for some Chinese goods, some merchandise to bring back home. I think that's part of the experience here, the hustle and bustle.

If it is what I think it is, I'll tell you all about it in my next blog. Maybe I'll get something good, too.

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