The Penguins reported to training camp just three months to the day of their Game 7 Stanley Cup Final victory. Though it is a quick turnaround to the start of training camp, the team wasn’t complaining about their short time off.
“I’m feeling good. It was a short summer but we wouldn’t have it any other way,” center Jordan Staal
said. “I think every player probably wants another month off but it’s time to get going and I’m ready to play. The guys are excited for another season and try to do it all over again.”
After playing in the Stanley Cup Final the past two years, and with the addition of the Olympic hockey camps, many Penguins players have seen a lot of action.
The Penguins coaching staff is cognizant of the heavy workload the team has endured and are preparing for the fact accordingly entering training camp to avoid player fatigue.
“The human body is a lot stronger and more resilient than we give it credit for,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Physically I think we’ll be OK. Mentally is where the focus will be on, making sure that we are keeping a balance. There are guys that played a lot of hockey and were at Olympic camps so we’ll take everybody as individuals and treat them as such.”
“The coaching staff knows that the guys had a long season last year and a short summer,” 13-year veteran Jay McKee said. “Players use the summer to get back into shape. Your body gets so worn down in the season. You usually want to take a good month or so off depending on how far you went. When these guys take that time off, they don’t have a lot of time to get the training in. I think that’s what the Stanley Cup hangover is about. I think the coaches are aware of that and will be smart and take the proper steps with how hard they work the guys early in the season.”
But hockey players want to play hockey. From the youngest to the oldest, the players always prefer to be on the ice.
Even 38-year-old Bill Guerin, who is partaking in his 18th NHL training camp, wants to play as often as he can. For him, playing never gets old and as his career winds down, he wants to deliver that message to his younger teammates.
“Enjoy it,” Guerin said. “That’s what we do. It’s our job. It’s our love. It’s what we love to do. The opportunity to play in the Olympics is a great experience. To be in the NHL is a great honor. Play every chance you get and don’t pass up those opportunities. Enjoy it.”
(Follow the Penguins 2009 training camp blog here