We definitely had a lot more battling on Sunday.
After getting into a steady flow on Saturday, we had a lot more 1-on-1 drills this morning. I think that's really good. At this point, I think everyone out there is just trying to get used to getting hit again. That doesn't really happen in summer skates, and it's not something you can simulate.
The types of hits you take during a game are just so different. A lot of times you don't want to play your teammates too hard during practice, but you have to in order to get them ready for what's to come. This morning was great for that, getting used to guys laying the body on you.
When I say that, I don't mean just hitting for the sake of hitting. It's all about adjustments. Not all hits are the same. It's about all the different positions that you can get hit in. It's about feeling out guys when you're in the corners battling for a puck, learning how to spin off contact again.
Once we got off the ice, we went straight into a workout. Even though you're fatigued after an intense practice, these workouts are really important. They test your mental strength as well as your physical strength. No matter how tired you are, you've got to stay focused on your task.
Ever since we arrived at camp, coaches have been stressing how much details matter.
Whether you're running through drills or working in the gym, you've got to focus on your form and how you're doing everything. You can't take any sets or reps off. When you're getting off the ice and feeling tired, it can be easy to want to just pack it in and do half a rep. You've got to fight through that. It's all about attention to details. We're really learning a lot about that here.
Once we get back in the locker room, it's a great time. I sit in a corner with guys like Grigori Denisenko, Matt Kiersted and Henry Bowlby. Max Gildon is always playing music. He's the locker room DJ right now. He's got some pretty good tunes, so we all appreciate his choices.
He really likes to play a little bit of everything, a diverse catalog of songs. He knows exactly what genre to pick for the type of vibe that we're trying to have at any given time. Usually, he likes to play either rap or rock n' roll before practice and then some country after we're done.
Honestly, it's just great to be back in a locker room setting like this. It feels normal again. After how different things were last season, just be able to have conversations with guys is special. The pandemic changed a lot about the locker room scene, but we're safely getting back to normal.
I really enjoy that side of the game. Building relationships, hanging out with your teammates, just talking and having a good time, it's good to have that back. That's also why this afternoon's team-building activity was so great. After we were done at the Panthers IceDen, we all hopped on a bus over to Fort Lauderdale to do some paddle boarding up and down the intercoastal.
Denisenko was the MVP of the afternoon. He was an absolute riot out there. He was all over the place and fell off his board a couple times. We all had a lot of fun. Guys were also poking each other's boards with their paddles. I saw Anton Lundell get Kiersted with one of those and he took a dive. I also saw John Ludvig do a handstand, which was awesome. It was a great time.
In South Florida, there's just so much to do away from the rink. I think that's what the team was trying to show us today. When you need to unwind from hockey, it's nice to be able to go do something completely different. You'll get overwhelmed by stress if you're only thinking about hockey all the time. It was nice to get out there and hang out with the guys in a different setting.
When we talk about being good teammates, it goes beyond the ice. It's an all-around thing. When you're away from the rink, it's still about being a good guy. We're all pushing for the same thing, chasing the same dream. We're united in that. It's important that we're all friends. The support you get from your teammates is huge. You've got to be able to trust the guy next to you.
Looking to wind down after a busy day, we're going to be having a team dinner tonight at Lona Cocina Tequileria. Some of us actually went there the night before camp started. It was pretty good. This time we're heading back for Round 2 as a team. It should be a really good time.
At the table, we generally keep the conversations away from hockey. When you're just hockey, hockey, hockey all the time, it can be taxing. Everyone has other interests, other things they like to do. It's fun to learn all of that. It's another thing that helps build those lasting relationships.
What everyone is really looking forward to is our beach workout in the morning.
We're all fired up for that.
We've had three days in a row of regular workouts, so it's going to be nice to change things up. What could be better than waking up and working on the beach? It's so beautiful here. I'm used to sunsets on the west coast, so it'll be nice to enjoy a sunrise with the guys on the east coast.
I'll let you know how it goes when I check back in tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,
*As told to FloridaPanthers.com's Jameson Olive