I think everybody was getting their heart rate up this morning.
During our first on-ice session of development camp on Saturday, we were all getting back into the swing of things. The practice had a quick pace, which was a good way to kick things off. I really enjoyed it a lot. I'm having a lot of fun with all the guys right now as we all work through this process together.
I know a lot of guys are trying to get back into shape and shake off those summer legs, so it was good to go right into some up-tempo work. After going through all of our testing on Friday, I think everyone was just excited to get out there and play some hockey and just really have some fun.
For myself, I'd already been informally skating here for a few weeks with some of the NHL guys.
I'm not going to lie, it was pretty weird the first time I got out there. Sharing the ice with guys like Joe Thornton, Aaron Ekblad and Patric Hornqvist, nerves were definitely high. But even though it was intimidating at first, I'm glad I could skate with them a couple times and calm down a bit. I also think it helped me gain some confidence and get off on the right foot heading into camp.
As I start to make the transition from college to the pros, I'm just trying to experience all the little changes in the game when I'm on the ice. I want to learn from all the other guys, see how they approach things and all that. At the end of the day, I'm just trying to learn the way things work.
Even coming from a storied program like Boston College, it's hard to contextualize just how much everything is so different in every little aspect when you compare college to the pros. I'm just trying to get as comfortable as possible during camp so that I can put my best foot forward.
It might sound a bit cliché, but consistency is key.
Every single time you get out there on the ice you've got to be consistent with your effort and consistent with your attitude and with the way you do things. I've been trying to be consistent with how I approach each skate. It was no different today. If you stay consistent and keep doing things the right way, you don't have to worry about making adjustments under the microscope.
But once we wrapped up this morning's skate, we had a team workout and then had lunch before heading over to BB&T Center for a community service event. As a team, we packed up boxes of food for families that are experiencing some very tough times because of COVID-19.
I think it was great that we got to do something to help impact the community. It really puts into perspective how lucky we are to do what we do. While we were working, one of the people with the organization told us to imagine going through our day and then having no food at the end. Not everyone is able to chase their dreams like we are. It's important to be reminded of how fortunate you are sometimes, and it's great that we could dedicate some of our time like that.
When we've got downtime, all of us development camp guys have been hanging out a lot.
On Thursday, I went to the beach with John Ludvig and Anton Lundell. We were all sitting at lunch together and then the conversation just turned to, 'Hey, let's get some sun.'
We'd seen some people riding jet skis earlier, so we also took some time to get a few temporary boating licenses online before we went so we could do the same. Unfortunately, even after all of that work and effort, the rental place was closed when we got there, so we just went swimming.
Being from Tampa, this state always feels like home to me. It's just a different vibe whenever I'm in Florida. The funny thing is, I've never played serious hockey down here. My whole life I played hockey up north. Usually when I'm here it's for training or to hang out with my family.
But now that I'm here for camp and starting to think about all the next steps, it feels different. It used to be the south was for relaxing and up north was work. Now the two worlds are colliding. It's an exciting feeling, honestly. I love this place, so it's great that I get to play hockey here.
Looking ahead to Sunday, I'm excited to keep pushing. It was good to get the first day of camp out of the way. I'm sure a lot of the younger guys feel the same. I remember during my first camp how nervous I was a few years ago. I know everyone will feel a lot better after today.
As for tonight, a group of us are going to grab some dinner before a team stretch at the hotel. Maybe we'll all sneak in some dessert. After today's skate, maybe we've earned that.
Talk to you all tomorrow,
*As told to FloridaPanthers.com's Jameson Olive