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BLOG: Into the wild

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers prospects have had their own beds to come home to at night during their stay in Jasper at Orientation Camp. But tonight that will change as the young prospects are headed into the woods with Oilers Captain Andrew Ference for a night of camping in the elements.

Ference’s friend and U.S. Army Ranger Lucas Carr will accompany the group of players into the wilderness and they will be tested mentally and physically.

“Working under conditions that are irrelevant in a regular civilian setting by taking away sleep and food,” Carr said. “By taking away the sleep and the food you are adding in the duress off extreme conditions with unfortunate results that will hopefully transpire onto the ice when some of the players get the food, they get the sleep and they have the talent at the point when there is 20 seconds in the game and they are down by one goal, to score that one goal. By having this in their background, right in their back pocket, they are going to look at a situation like that and they are going to say, “this is easy. Let’s just be ourselves.”

Carr continued, “You do make the best plays when you are in a situation like that, when you are not thinking about doing everything, when you are not thinking what you should have done. Be yourself, stay composed, do the little things that are going to get the job done, do the little things that are going to score the goal, do the little things that are going to pass the mental aptitude and tests, use your intestinal fortitude to carry on to the next objective and win the game.”

Ference was asked by Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish to come in and speak with the prospects but having been through development camps of his own, the captain wanted to make more of an impression on the young players.

“I wasn’t too keen on just having a chat and talking with the kids. I’ve gone through stuff like that before. I figured it would be more effective to do something real and fun and just different. So tonight we are taking the guys on a little adventure with our friends.”

The prospects will be given the essentials, including rations of food and water, and they will be in the company of trained professionals like Carr.

“It’s basically just being thrown to the lions in a general sense,” Carr said. “You haven’t been in a situation like that, now is a great opportunity for you to show a leadership capability that you can use throughout your career in the NHL. Or if it’s just going into civilian world with a regular job and using that saying, “Wow, I did this when I was at Edmonton Oilers Prospect Camp. I can use what I learned here at some point in my life and be evaluated on how I was a leader then.”

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