When it comes to planning the Nashville Predators' day-to-day schedule each season, minor tweaks might be made, but one thing always remains consistent: attention to detail. The coaches and their staff congregate in mid-August, about a month from the start of training camp, to begin outlining a comprehensive schedule and itinerary, “down to the minute.”
“Us coaches, along with Director of Team Services Greg Harvey, kind of plan the season down to the last-minute things like where we are going to practice and when we are going to practice, and then Greg executes it,” Associate Coach Brent Peterson said. “We get very detailed as far as team-building and off-ice activities, and we plan everything for the team for the entire year.”
|Associate coach Brent Peterson and the rest of the coaching staff put countless hours into scheduling each detail of the upcoming season. |
There are countless agenda items to be planned by the coaches and personnel. Even before the league schedule is made public, Harvey is hard at work negotiating hotel contracts for the various cities the team visits, in addition to tasks like getting new pictures on the locker room walls. The coaches, meanwhile, decide when and where practices will take place, as well as what stylistic changes they will implement in the team’s play. Peterson emphasizes that no one wants unpleasant surprises in the daily routine, so focusing on crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s in August will save everyone from frantically scrambling at the last minute once the rigors of the season roll around.
“Preparation is vital to every aspect of the game on and off the ice so we want to be focused on getting it done right,” Peterson said. “We know what works, we know what players like to do, and we know what has worked in the past to make us successful. Sometimes we just want to make changes just to change the routine up. Sometimes we make subtle changes and sometimes we make big changes but all that is decided now.”
As much as the coaches want everything to remain static once a plan is in writing, things don’t always work out that way. A rough west coast road trip or the flu bug going through the team forces unforeseen changes to the daily schedule. Because of this, there has to be some allowance for alterations.
“We have the flexibility to change practice time from the morning to the afternoon if need be, or to not come in at all,” Peterson said. “We like to know what is going on, and the players get an itinerary at the beginning of the year so they know what days they have off, as well as when and where they practice, so they know exactly what is going on for the entire year.”
That itinerary starts with Day 1, Sept. 13, when the players officially report to training camp. And because of the intensity and the volume of activities that must be crammed into such a small amount of time, the planning of the preseason can get fairly complicated. Each attendee must have his flight scheduled and hotel room booked well in advance by Harvey, while the coaches lay out a blueprint of all that will occur on the ice.
|Head coach Barry Trotz works on off-ice preparations in his office. (Photo by David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated) |
“We plan what we are going to do each day of the 20-day training camp down to the last minute,” Peterson said. “Then, as the players arrive [in the days or weeks prior to the start of camp], we talk to them and discuss how we want to do things this year, so when Sept. 13 rolls around, everyone is on the same page and ready to go with systems, rosters and everything else to do with the season.”
After spending portions of two of the past three training camps in Orlando, Fla., the team will stay in Music City for the entire preseason in 2007. Instead of players spending 24 hours a day with teammates like they did in the Sunshine State, the coaches have arranged some daily team-building events in Nashville and surrounding areas. Peterson said the staff has some unique things planned, but with young-player evaluations, cuts and six games to be played in a three-week span, they don’t have much down time.
“Training camp is hard and tough, but it is a short sprint to get everybody ready throughout the organization – not only here, but the guys going to Milwaukee and back to their junior teams,” he said.
There aren’t any other drastic changes planned for the ’07 edition of camp – most of the focus will be on teaching the first-year Predators a new system, and fostering chemistry between them and the returnees. With as many as seven new players hitting the ice for the Preds this season, getting each member of the roster on the same page is crucial.
“We are going to tweak some systems and make a few changes to make us stronger given the new guys that we have,” Peterson said. “But mostly, it is just getting everyone feeling comfortable with each other on the ice as soon as possible – we don’t have time to wait a month for everyone to get in the swing of things.”