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'Nine: A Player's Blog To The NHL

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Panthers Center Stephen Weiss
Center Stephen Weiss will take you on the road for training camp and straight through to the end of the 2007-08 season, as the center writes about his thoughts in his blog properly entitled, 'Nine. This blog can only exclusively be seen on

The popular Weiss, a first-round draft pick (4th overall) in 2001, enters his sixth NHL season after setting career-highs last season in goals (20), assists (28) and points (48). The 5-11 forward also recorded his first NHL hat trick Jan. 13 against the Capitals.

4.01.08, 10:13 A.M. :::: Finishing Up Strong

Obviously, the season was a disappointment, not making the playoffs again. But the last three games, there’s a couple big games in Carolina and Washington. We’ll try to spoil their party. We have to play well these last three games and try to get three wins going into the summer.
We’ll take away the same this year as we did the last couple – that our first half of the year isn’t where it needs to be to be in the playoffs. We always have a good finish. We have to start the way we finish. If we do that, we’ll be all right.
I don’t know the reason for it. I don’t know what it is. It’s up to each guy. Just because it’s the start of the year and we have 82 games to go doesn’t mean the games aren’t important. They’re just as important as the ones at the end of the year. We have to realize that.
The win streak - It was huge. We did that to have that confidence going into next year. But we have to do it a few times. The best teams in the league do that consistently, put together seven, eight game win streaks and that carries them through the year. We’re going to have to do that if we want to be one of the elite teams.
I haven’t really thought about my plans after the season. I’ll be here for a little bit, tying up loose ends and stuff like that. We’ll see what happens.
Over the off-season, every summer you want to get bigger, stronger, faster. I’ll try to work on those things. I’ll try to get better. Personally, this year wasn’t as good as last year. But, you know what, more incentive to do better next year.
See you soon.

3.19.08, 2:01 P.M. :::: Big Game

I watched the Philly game Tuesday night against Atlanta. Philly played OK. Pretty big save at the end by Philadelphia’s goalie. That’s usually what happens when you deserve to win.
We have a big game Thursday. Carolina has a quick team, they cycle well, draw a lot of penalties and have a good power play. So we have to make sure that we’re skating and not giving the refs any reason to call penalties on ourselves. If that happens, we’ll make it harder on ourselves than we need to.
I think as soon as you get your stick up and around their waste you’re just asking for a call. We have to keep our sticks down, move our feet and not give them any reason to call anything that could be marginal.
To the fans: Keep coming. Keep filling the building and helping us out. It gives us a big boost when you come out and its packed and its loud. We’ve been working really hard over the last month to get back into this and put ourselves in this position, and a little extra boost will go a long way.
And it’s been awesome over the last month. Hopefully, we’ll both keep it up over these last eight games.

Talk to you soon.

3.07.08, 1:51 P.M. :::: Stretch Run

We had a pretty good trip. Boston and…where the heck were we? Oh, Long Island. Two huge road wins. Andy was huge in both wins, obviously. And we won last night at home. A good way to start off the home stretch.
The feeling is one game at a time. Like a seventh game every game, and we have to win every game. That’s how we’re looking at it. It’s fun. It’s a good challenge. We’re playing playoff hockey now so it’s almost like we’re in the playoffs right now. All we can do is take care of our games, win our games, and maybe get a little help along the way.
We don’t want to make excuses, but health has definitely been an issue. It’s a big thing. When Tampa made their run and won the Cup they barely had any injuries. That certainly helps, to have your full roster all year. But that’s part of the grind, part of the NHL season. It’s losing guys and other guys having to step up and fulfill roles. But we’ve had a lot of guys out. Not just one guy out, but four, five guys out. It’s been tough, but we’ve hung in there all year and we’re still in it.
It’s going to be tough, but we have 12 games left and we pretty much know we have to win a good majority of those. We’re not getting much help right now, everyone seems to be winning. But like I said, it’s a seventh game scenario every night and we have to put it on the line every night. Hopefully, we’ll win most of our games and we’ll get in. If not, we’re going to be disappointed.

Talk to you soon.

2.05.08, 10:48 A.M. :::: Gaining Confidence

We’ve had some injuries, but it’s part of the game. Part of hockey. You have to deal with that stuff. Obviously, you don’t want to have to go through it. Or, at least, as little as possible. But these things definitely happen.

We’ve lost some key guys, especially Devo now. But some kids have a chance to come up and make an impression.

Our last two games against Vancouver and Tampa were real big. Huge wins. Tomas was huge for us. We’re just finding ways to win, and that’s huge. Winning two big games before this road trip was really key.

I think those wins will give us a bit more confidence. Knowing we won the last two games, maybe it takes a little bit of pressure off. Having won those two means we don’t have a coiple losses weighing on our minds going into this trip.

This trip is going to be fun. We’re in good cities, fun cities, and we’re playing pretty well on the road. We’re excited and it’s a good chance for us.

Talk to you soon.

1.21.08, 5:40 P.M. :::: Back From The Road

We’re back from the road. It wasn’t the best of trips. We were 1-2. We just didn’t have a great start in Philly. We got down a few goals early. We got a big win in Jersey, we played well, but the same thing happened in Washington that happened in Philly.

In Washington we fell down three goals, came back to tie the game, but they got a power play and we couldn’t score in the third.

It was a long trip. We’re excited to be home and finish off these next two games this week before the All-Star break. We have two really good teams coming in here in Ottawa and Edmonton. Ottawa had a big loss last night, so they’re going to be ready for us. But we’re up for the challenge. We’re excited about playing two good teams.

Talk to you soon.

1.07.08, 1:40 P.M. :::: Bounce Back

The road trip wasn’t great. I don’t think we played very well as a team. I don’t think anyone would argue that very much. We didn’t have our best games. We found a way to get two big points on Long Island, but not the best road trip we’ve had all year.
It’s important for us to bounce back and have a good game against Pittsburgh. I think we need to be consistent and make sure you bring the same effort every night. I think it’s up to each individual guy to make sure he’s prepared himself properly and have his best effort every night. Obviously, you’re not going to score every night, things aren’t going to happen every night. But it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to work hard and play defense. I think you need to play defense no matter how you’re feeling or how things are going offensively. Everyone can contribute defensively.
The Pittsburgh game wasn’t totally bad. We didn’t have a great 10 minutes of the game. We gave them a couple chances they capitalized on and we were playing catch-up the rest of the night. One goal might have changed the game, even though we were down 2-0. You definitely can’t start that way. As soon as you spot teams one or two goals in this league it just gives them that much more momentum and it’s tough to come back.
It’s nice to have Booth back. It was fun to play with Soupy for a little but, but it’s nice to have Booth back. He’s back to where he left off, and Timmy is scoring now. It’s fun, fun for a center man like me to play with two guys like that. Just ‘cause we had a game with some results we need to stay on top of things and keep going.
We get Pittsburgh again Tuesday. Crosby is a good player. He’s got a lot of speed. He’s just so quick as moving the puck. I think that’s his big thing. As soon as he gets it, it’s off his stick and gone. Definitely makes the players around him better. We have to make sure when his line is on the ice, we do the job defensively. They got two goals on us last time. If we keep them in check we have a better chance of winning game.
Talk to you soon.

12.21.07, 3:05 P.M. :::: Great Time Of Year

Thursday was a big win, and the fans were great. I said after to a couple guys it was the loudest I had ever heard that building after a game. It was noticeable and nice to see.
And it was a big win, especially against a team that’s given us some trouble. And to come back like we did…it was a big boost.
I think we’re showing signs that we’re growing. In years past we might have said it too tough to come back. But now we’re finding ways to win. We’re down two goals, we’re on the road, but we’re finding ways to win. That’s key. You’ve got to win games when you’re not supposed to win games because you’re going to lose games you should win over a long year like this.
I think after a while, when you do it, when it happens more and more, you get used to it and it forms a habit. And that’s what winning is, it’s good habits and doing the right things.
It’s a little easier to be happy when you’re winning and things are going good. When you’re winning a game, losing two, winning two…it’s sort of tough. But when you’re winning more than losing – when you’re stringing wins together – it’s a real good feeling, especially around here, because we haven’t had that in a while.
To be right in the mix, three points behind Carolina and a chance to win our division, it’s right where we want to be. It hasn’t been easy, been tough at times and we’ve had to battle. But it’s a good sign that we’re winning games at this time of year. Hopefully, we’ll start peaking now and just get over this hump and not look back.
The Leafs are coming Saturday. I was a big Leaf fan growing up and it’s always fun playing them. A lot of people watching the game, especially this time of the year and it should be a full building.
For Christmas, my parents are in town. I’m just going to hang out, have some dinner at home, and take a couple days to get rest and get ready for the big push.
I hope everyone has a happy holiday. I hope everyone is safe, most importantly, and enjoys their time with their families. It’s the most important time of the year and my favorite holiday.
Talk to you soon.

12.08.07, 2:55 P.M. :::: Mental Preparation

We had lost a few in a row and we were really anxious to get some wins so winning against the Islanders last night was great for us. We don’t want this thing to get too far away.

The mood of the team is good. We’re positive. But we know we have to be better and win some games.

We’ve been watching some tapes. They’re teaching points on how to think the right way and not to psyche yourself out. Just things about what people who win on a consistent basis do, how they think, how they prepare. And it’s not by accident. So that’s what the theme of the meetings were. Learning to think correctly and in the right way, and all of it’s done for a reason.

It’s forcing yourself to think positively and not worrying about negative things that can happen, or making mistakes. It’s about doing the work mentally and preparing yourself so when you go out there everything happens for a reason, and you put the work in and leave nothing to chance.

We talked about luck. It’s not about luck. It’s about putting the preparation in before the game so when you go out there all you have to do is play.

Haven’t done much outside hockey. I’m into a new band called Razorlight. Me and Monty. Trying to get the boys into them but it’s a struggle.

Talk to you soon.

11.26.07, 3:21 P.M. :::: Finding A Way To Get It Done

We had a couple days off over the weekend. We actually had our rookie dinner on Saturday in Miami and that was fun. It was on Murph and Krepsy. It wasn’t too bad for them. We pitched in the rest after we cut them off at a certain amount. We didn’t let it get too crazy. On Sunday I just chipped away at a little house stuff and watched some football.
I think the last road trip was really key for us. We didn’t win all three but that trip could have set us back a bit in terms of the rest of the month. To get 4 of 6 points and then get a win at home was huge for us instead of winning only one game or losing all three on the road. That could have been a problem.
We had a pretty decent game in Carolina to start the trip. We couldn’t find a way to score when we needed to but we played a good road game. You know, not much was said after that game. We knew we had to be better against Washington, knew that was a must-win game. And following up the game in Washington with another win in Columbus was huge.
You know, we’re finding a way to get it done. It definitely hasn’t been easy. But that road trip, we had some adversity in the games we played - we gave up the lead late in Washington – but we stuck with it. In Columbus we had a real good third period. The other night against the Rangers was a good effort as well.
I think we’ve been more consistent for 60 minutes and we’ve been playing harder overall and limiting our turnovers. Vokey has been unbelievable, been our best player. We need that. He gives us a chance to win every night and that’s huge.
The Ranger game at home was great. Our rink is one of my favorite buildings when it’s filled. There’s a lot of energy. It was a fun game to be part of. I look forward to the Thanksgiving Day game every year. It’s always an exciting game, and to win is even better.
We have a big stretch of games coming up. Getting another big win Wednesday on the road would be nice. Then we really have to focus and take advantage of our homes games and keep climbing up. That’s our goal.
Talk to you soon.

11.16.07, 2:43 P.M. :::: Three-Game Road Trip

Road trip.
Packing the clothes and my DVD player. I don’t bring movies. Soupy does. Don’t know what he’s bringing. He has a big case of flicks and other guys bring some, too. What did we watch last time to Atlanta?…The Great Outdoors. An old school movie.
There’s tons of movies I’ll go back and watch. All the Will Ferrell movies. We try to watch new ones we haven’t seen to keep it interesting.
That’s pretty much all I do on the plane. Watch movies, chat. I used to play cards but haven’t played cards this year at all. Poker was the big game. It still goes on but I haven’t jumped into it yet.
We’re going to Carolina, Washington and Columbus. I think there’s a team dinner tonight. That will get us out of the hotel at least. Haven’t been to Columbus in a few years. Not the most exciting trip.
Last night’s game was a good one to win. We won at home. We can’t afford to lose that game and we did the job. Huge to get that before we go on this three-game trip.
I think we have to work hard every night and try to not slip and have an off night. The key is to try and bring your best every night. If we do that and play with some structure, we’ll be fine and have a good chance to win every game. When we get away from those things a little bit that’s when we get into a little trouble. But we’ve been going good. I think we can have a lot more wins with a little more focus at the end of a game or a bounce here and there. We just have to keep chipping away.
November has been a big struggle for us. We’re ahead of schedule. If we get four or five wins we won’t be ecstatic but we’ll be pleased with that.
Talk to you soon.

11.09.07, 12:07 P.M. :::: Getting A Better Start

Well, the start in Tampa wasn’t what we wanted, obviously. We spotted them a couple goals and got in a hole. But we hung around and had a chance to win at the end of the night. We took three penalties in a row in the second period. The penalty killers did a good and we still had a chance to win. Still some positives, but the first period wasn’t the start we wanted and that’s why we lost.

Everyone usually has some kind of feeling before a game whether you’re ready. I had a great feeling in Tampa. I thought we had a good warm-up, guys were upbeat and there was good energy. When a team scores that early on you (1:48) it should make you go opposite, you should push it. But maybe we sat back a little bit and then they got the second one and we really had to get on our horses.

We talked about the first five, 10 minutes of the game. Why we weren’t ready. We can’t spot teams two goals. We can’t do that kind of stuff. So we talked about why that happened. No one knows why. It’s just one of those things.

We’re still positive. We’re right in the mix. We get a couple big wins, one tonight against Atlanta and Monday against Carolina. Obviously, we don’t want to look ahead but we’re still right there. We just have to be a little more consistent and we’ll be fine.

Someone brought up how we’re the only team down here that’s been winning games. I hope guys pay attention to that kind of thing. It’s important. We want as much support here as possible. Not that we want the other teams to do bad, but I think it’s our turn. We want to get this building packed and get some important hockey going. All it takes is a couple wins, three, four in a row and we’ll be up there in a playoff spot

Talk to you soon. 
10.30.07, 2:05 P.M. :::: A Big Halloween Week

We have a Halloween party every year. We pick a night and we all meet, get dressed up, have some dinner and have a good time. I was dressed as an 80’s rock star. It was more a Motley Crue kind of thing. Leather pants, mullet, chain, spikes…that kind of thing.

Everyone puts a good effort in. The wives are there and it’s a fun night. We went to Café Bella Sera. We rented the place and the food was awesome.

That stuff is cool. The Halloween party, the Christmas party. You can just get away from the rink a little bit and hang out with your teammates and have some dinner. It’s cool. We need to do that stuff more as a team. You get to know your teammates better and build some chemistry. It’s a good thing every year.

On the ice, we had a tough loss in Nashville. We played a pretty good road game, got some key power play goals and played hard. We got a bad bounce at the end, or whatever you want to call it in the end. But we had a good Halloween dinner, a good skate (Monday), and we know we have a big game weekend coming up with Carolina twice and Buffalo. We have to be ready and get six points.

I think we haven’t played our best hockey yet. We could be doing a lot better and our record should be a lot better. We’re not happy. But we have to look at the positive. If we start putting this thing together and play 60 minutes we can win on a consistent basis. And we know we can do it because we’ve done it the last two years in the second half of the year. So it’s a matter of getting, whatever you want to call it – the chemistry that we’ve had in the second part of the year – trying to get it now, as soon as possible.

We’re not that far away.

Talk to you soon.

10.24.07, 9:09 A.M. :::: Making Sure We Rebound

The road trip started well in Montreal when we got 2 points. We didn’t play too well. They were all over us. But we found a way to hang in there and, at that point, all it took was 1 shot to get us in the game. We were able to get the late power play goal with about 12 seconds left and that was huge. And then we won the shootout. It was a good way to start the trip.
In Toronto, we played pretty well for 40 minutes. Then we got in some penalty trouble and let them back in the game. They scored late and we kind of got one stolen back on us.
It was a tough match-up in Ottawa. Obviously, they’re the best team in the league right now. We were doing OK, we were in the game for 40 minutes, but we took some penalties in the second period and that kind of gave them some momentum. We got a big power play goal to get back to 2-1 and then they took it too us a little in the third period. We kind of got away from what we wanted to do and it cost us the game.
Coming back from the road trip I battled to get to sleep when we got home Saturday night. When we get home that late (3 a.m.) I find it hard to sleep right away after the drive home. Sunday was a rest day. I caught up on sleep in the morning and then just got my body right again. Get hydrated, make sure you eat properly, get rest and watch some football. I watched the (Dolphins) game, saw the score and turned if off. I knew the outcome.
Practices the past few days have pretty much been the same style we’ve been doing. (Monday) was a bit of a work day. We had some guys out with some injuries so we had a shorter number of guys at practice. We did some battling drills and had a good skate at the end. (Tuesday) we did systems, some power play stuff, and worked on some penalty killing. Pretty standard stuff the day before games.
Right now our frame of mind is we’re coming off two losses and we’ve got to get a win at home. We have two big games at home, we need to win and we’re playing against a very good hockey team that’s playing well. We’ve got to make sure we get a good start. We seem to start well at home. We need to continue that and play 60 minutes and knock off a pretty good team.
The (Flyers) have good defensemen and a good goalie. It seems to be the case with every game in this league. You play against a real good goalie. As long as we do the things we do when we’re successful, we should be OK.
Talk to you soon.

10.12.07, 1:03 P.M. :::: A Little Something Different

Well, we’ve started something different. We’ve come up with this new idea. We’re going to have a hero of the game when we win. Whoever has it will give it out for the next game. (Bryan Allen) won it last night. A couple big blocked shots, a big fight for us. It’s a cape with a big ‘H’ on the back, which stands for Hero.

A lot of teams do it with different things. Monty (Steve Montador) was the head honcho behind it. There were a couple of us behind the scenes putting this whole thing together. (Monty) ordered the cape. It’s cool. Guys want to win and they’re fighting for it. It’s something that will help us, for sure.

As far as Thursday’s victory (against the Devils), it was huge. After losing our first three, it wasn’t a game we could afford to lose at home. We didn’t have our greatest game, but we still found a way to win at home and that was key.

The difference? Special teams. We weren’t very good 5 on 5, we got some chances, but special teams were huge. We got a couple goals and that was the difference. You need the power play and penalty kill to bail you out sometimes.

We had played better in Tampa (Wednesday). We didn’t generate too much, we scored one goal, but we played a full game. That was positive, and we carried it over to last night and got the job done.

We knew we could be better after the first three games. We played pretty darn good in New York and we just had one bad period. We’ve had some good games, but hadn’t put it together for 60 minutes. (Thursday) night the work ethic was there for 60 and the power play was huge and gave us a couple goals.

The mood of the team is real good. Guys are positive. We had a good day (Friday) and we have a huge game (Saturday) at home. Maybe we’re a little more relaxed and looser this year. We have a little bit of a younger team (than last year). It’s tough to play when you’re tight. Even though we lost a few games, if you start getting tight and second guessing yourself it’s going to make it tougher. We play relaxed and intense at the same time. And you can’t squeeze the sticks too tight yet. It’s pretty early.

Be positive, play the game. When we do that we’re OK.

Talk to you soon.

10.05.07, 5:35 P.M. :::: A Learning Process

Well, it was pretty sweet for 40 minutes.
Madison Square Garden is a great place to open up. A hostile environment, especially with the (free agents) they signed last summer. There was a lot of excitement. Obviously, it wasn’t the start we wanted.
What we did there was pretty much dominate for 40 minutes and let it slip away in the end. But I think a lot of positives will come out of that game.
I don’t know what it was. It seemed like we stopped doing the things we did the first 40 minutes. We kind of sat back a little bit. We have to know when the (opponent) is down 2-1 and getting booed after the second period, they’re going to come out hard in the third.
And they did and we weren’t exactly at our best. In this league, when you’re not at your best, you’re going to (allow) a couple goals, and that’s what happened.
It was a learning process. Like I said, for 40 minutes we were pretty darn good. I thought we were faster (than last season). We allowed only nine shots after two periods. We did a lot of good things. But, at the same time, we have a lot of work to do because we shouldn’t have lost that game after 40 minutes. But we have to learn from that going into Saturday.
I think our (first) home game will be awesome. We’re looking for a big crowd. The home opener is always special, so it’s important to have a good start and win this hockey game.
I haven’t seen a lineup for the Devils. I don’t think they have as much offense as the Rangers, but they have a pretty good goalie and every team in this league is good. It’s a dog fight every night, and we have to be good every night.
Talk to you soon.

10.01.07, 4:26 P.M. :::: Taking On West Point

Point and were driven to our first Team Building exercise. A guy (drill sergeant J.B. Spisso) came on the bus, I forget what he said, but he introduced himself quickly and basically told us to get off the bus fast and follow him.

He got off the bus running. We were all kind of laughing on the bus. Next thing you know we were all out there and bombs were going off and we had to duck and, pretty much, we started working right away.

My first reaction to the bombs? Duck. It was a little funny off the bat. It was a little system shock. After that you realize these guys aren’t messing around. We’re here to do something. You have to figure out a bunch of stuff early on. At first you really don’t know what you’re doing and it’s tough to adapt to that situation in the dark.

We had to move pretty quickly, too. We had to find a big stick and put our team flag on it. I think the swamp was our second mission. We ran up a big hill in the forest to start our first mission, which was to build three different things. One was a shelter, one was a solar still for water, and something else to sleep under.

The swamp, where you had to rescue a pilot and bring him back across the swamp, was cool. It was pitch black and you couldn’t see anything. We were able to yell instructions across the water. But the (instructor) told us if it was a real combat situation you wouldn’t be able to yell across. So you’d have to know what you’re doing and find a way to signal across. It makes you think how unbelievable that would be in a real life situation.

The tires (tire role) was another activity. It was pretty straight forward. More of a physical activity. Push them up the hill with someone yelling in your ear the whole time.

As you get a little more tired, as you do the third and fourth activities, you start losing some stuff and those guys (instructors) point out what you’re doing wrong. I think we lost a pair of glasses and some rope, but we kept our flag the whole time.

It was an awesome experience. Awesome. It was fun to do those activities but it really gives you perspective that people really have to do that in real life, in real combat situation, and it makes you appreciate the people that have to do that for the country. It’s not easy stuff to do. That stuff was hard. It will keep you alive in real situations and it’s for real.

We went back to skating today after a day and a half off. It was a good skate. I’m looking forward to (Tuesday’s) practice and Wednesday and then the Rangers. I think everyone has that game in the back of their minds. I’m trying not to overthink the game, but we’re all anxious.

Talk to you again soon.

9.26.07, 5:08 P.M. :::: Everyone Has A Nickname

The Specialist.
That’s what Olli (Jokinen) called Cory Murphy (Tuesday). That’s a good name for him. Obviously, he’s here to help us on the power play. He’s a smart guy, smart player, and he’s pretty good at what he does. So it’s a good nickname.

Everyone has a nickname, pretty much. I’ve had Weisser, Weissy, Easy. Guys call me Little Easy. Actually Jim Pizzutelli made that up for me. It kind of stuck when I was in San Antonio (2004-05). It’s actually from golf. I played golf a little with Pizza and he named me after Ernie Els. Els is the Big Easy so he called me the Little Easy. That’s where that came from.

I don’t remember the last time I played golf, way before camp started. My handicap is a little under 10, probably around seven or eight at one time. I was doing pretty good but haven’t played in a while so it’s probably gone up a bit. I like playing Eagle Trace. It’s a tough course. They set you up a little off (off the tees). You have to be careful. It’s tricky, but I like it.

Since we got home I haven’t really done much. On Saturday and Sunday we had two practices. So basically I had practice, went home, took a nap for 45 minutes, had practice again, had dinner, went to bed. After the game (Tuesday) afternoon, I went to dinner with Bo (Jay Bouwmeester) and Monty (Steve Montador).

I loved the noon game. I’d play every game at noon if I could. You just get to it. You don’t have time to sit around and think about who you’re playing and what you want to do. You get up, have a good breakfast, get a good warmup in, and get to it. It’s nice to be done by 3 because I find it tough to sleep after games, so with an afternoon game I’m not up ‘till 3 in the morning trying to get sleep. You’re all fired up, and depending on how the game goes, it’s tough to get it out of your mind.

Next few days we’ll practice. I have an appearance Saturday with Brett McLean. So it’s really pack your bags, one more day at home, and then on the road to West Point and the first game of the season.

Talk to you in a few days.

9.20.07, 3:58 P.M. :::: Road Trip Almost Over

Well, the week long pre-season road trip comes to an end tonight in Chicago. It will be great to get back to South Florida tomorrow, even though the weather is pretty mild in Chicago today. Chicago is a great city, I had the chance to play with the Chicago Wolves (AHL) during their playoff run in 2004-05, so I have had the opportunity to take in all that the city has to offer. 

We practiced at the University of Saskatchewan yesterday morning before chartering to Chicago (can't say I am that upset to leave Saskatchewan). Actually the crowd and the atmosphere surrounding the game on Tuesday night was awesome. The folks in Saskatoon really love their hockey and they packed the Credit Union Centre.

It was not the prettiest of games on Tuesday night, but we got the win. It was great to win in the shootout to give our team a little confidence. As you can probably remember we had some struggles with the shootouts last season.

Since we arrived a little late last night, I decided to just order some room service and relax in my room. We have a pretty busy stretch over the last week, playing four games in five nights. So, it was nice to unwind and watch some television.

I am in the line-up tonight playing alongside Rositslav Olesz and Richard Zednik. Craig Anderson who once played in Chicago will get the start in net. It should be a very competitive game, as Chicago has a young club with plenty of guys who are eager to crack the NHL line-up.

Well, I'm back at the team hotel now and I am just going to eat the pre-game meal and take a little nap before we board the bus for the game. We leave immediately after the game for South Florida.

Talk to you in a few days.

9.14.07, 3:31 P.M. ::::: Kicking Off Training Camp

The first day of training camp has been good so far. It was tough to get your wind in this altitude, but a couple of us actually kind of cheated a bit. We were here a couple weeks ago with (strength and conditioning coach) Andy O’Brien so we kind of got a head start.

We did a lot of different things that week. One day we went skeet shooting. Then we did a mountain hike, which was really hard. We did some ATB tours through the mountains. We were supposed to go golfing one day but we were too tired.

We got here (Thursday). On the plane out I watched a couple movies - Spy Games. I kind of just hung out. We had some testing in the morning at the BankAtlantic Center, so I took a little nap. We got to the hotel and had the team dinner. It’s customary the night before camp. You have dinner with everybody and the head coach usually says a few words about expectations for camp and rules and things like that. After that it was off to bed.

Today was about trying to get the hands back. I haven’t skated too much the last five or six days, but I’m looking forward to getting some consistency on the ice and getting the legs going and game ready.

A few of us are going to sit in the river. It’s nice and cold so we’ll get a little cold tub and flush the legs a little. Probably kick the feet up a little and have dinner.

The next week we’ll be doing a lot but I’m used to it. I don’t know if it’s an adjustment for the younger guys who haven’t done it, but the key thing is to make sure you get a lot of fluids. Flying and getting late into cities can take a lot of you. Hydrating is key and eating is key.

Speaking of, now it’s time to get some lunch.

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