Photo: Doug Brumley
Predators forward Darcy Hordichuk (left), seen here with Scottie Upshall and Kimmo Timonen (right), celebrates a goal he scored during an informal four-on-four scrimmage at Centennial Sportsplex Wednesday morning.
With the start of training camp only eight days away, the number of Predators players gathering daily at the team's practice facility in Centennial Sportsplex continues to grow. After working through loosely organized skating drills Wednesday morning, nine Predators players plus strength coach David Good formed two teams--blue and white--and participated in the first four-on-four scrimmage of the pre-
"Lately, Goodie's been kind of skating us, getting in a little bit of a 'bag skate,' " said Predators forward Darcy Hordichuk, who has been skating at Centennial for several weeks now. "We've been slowly starting to scrimmage here. We've got a great little setup. We come in here and work out for about an hour then go for a skate. Guys have been skating I think for the last few weeks, but now it's good to just skate with some of the other players."
Hordichuk came up big during Wednesday's informal game of shinny, banging in four goals over the span of three brief games. Horidichuk was joined by Martin Erat, Scottie Upshall, Ryan Suter and Tomas Vokoun on Team White, while Team Blue was made up of Jason Arnott, Scott Nichol, Kimmo Timonen, Chris Mason and Good. For Arnott--an imposing 6'4" center that the Predators signed as a free agent in early July--it was his third day skating as a Predator.
"I'm nervous as well as excited at the same time," Arnott said after the session. "I'm coming to a new team and I don't really know anybody, but hockey players are guys that you can get along with at any time and anywhere. So it's been great. The guys that are here now have been awesome. They just make you feel like you've been here for a long time. And I wanted to come a little early to kind of get into the groove. It's hard to just show up the day before training camp and say, 'Hey, how are you?' and just step on the ice."
Paul Kariya, who was Nashville's top scorer in 2005-06 with 85 points in 82 games, is at the training complex as well, focusing on off-ice training. Steve Sullivan and Pekka Rinne have been regulars too, and each day more players are joining the assembled group. The pre-camp gathering is as much about seeing familiar faces and meeting the new ones as it is about conditioning.
"I think it's your internal clock, that right around this time of year you get the itch to get going and skating and seeing the guys," Nichol said. "It's nice for the newer guys to come and you get to know them, and then even us going to Orlando [for the final week of training camp] will be nice to really get to know the guys before the season."
"Back in Wisconsin, the leaves were falling and you knew it was time to start," said Suter, who's about to embark on his sophomore NHL season. "Coming down here now you see everyone and you get excited for the year to start."