Head coach Barry Trotz was pleased with the team’s first on-ice session of 2007 Training Camp held Friday morning at Centennial Sportplex, saying it was likely the best first-day practice in the eight previous seasons he has coached the Predators.
“I was really happy with the first group this morning,” Trotz said. “They worked with a lot of pace, they executed fairly well and they worked quite hard so that was a really good sign.”
On the coaching staff’s agenda for Day 1 of camp was instilling an up-tempo pace focused on conditioning and working off some of the “summer rust habits” that tend to accumulate during the more than four-month off-season. Trotz pointed out small things that get overlooked in the heat of battle such as stopping in front of the net to pick up rebounds or deflect shots, in addition to facing body checks head-on (instead of turning away from the oncoming man.)
But, with 28 players skating at their first Predators training camp, the common theme for the next three weeks will be developing chemistry, and having the newcomers adopt the team’s work ethic and culture.
After that, Trotz said, it is just “deliberately and systematically going through things.”
“It felt good out there with my new teammates,” forward Jed Ortmeyer said. “It was an up-tempo skate with a lot of good players so it has been a good first day overall. Right now, I am just trying to understand the system, in addition to what the coaching staff wants.”
Ortmeyer, a free-agent signee from the New York Rangers, thinks the reasons Nashville brought him in was because he would fit well into the team’s hard-working culture. The 6-0, 197-pound Omaha, Neb., native is a self-proclaimed grinder who is honest at both ends of the rink, and brings a number of intangibles to the table.
Though they may not be as flashy as some of the departed stars that they are replacing in the lineup, Trotz said professionalism is one of the similarities between all the newcomers like Ortmeyer, Martin Gelinas, Radek Bonk or Greg de Vries.
“The common theme with the new players is that they are good people,” Trotz said. “They come with a good work ethic and good moral background. They are hard guys that aren’t overly fancy, but they come and work like true professionals every day.”
The up-tempo practices of training camp are therefore welcomed in the
|Newcomer Jed Ortmeyer talks to the media following Friday's morning session. |
Nashville locker room, regardless of whether a player is a first-liner poised for a big offensive season, or depth player trying to catch management’s eye and break the opening-night roster.
“Guys are in here trying to prove themselves and win jobs, so training camp is always going to be intense and high-tempo,” said Matt Ellison, a 6-0, 192-pound right winger acquired from Philadelphia this summer. “I expect that to progress more and more with each day as guys get more comfortable and get moving better.”
Ellison, who played all but two games with the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate last season, has a similar mentality to many of the players on two-way contracts between Nashville and its primary developmental affiliate in Milwaukee – work hard, find a niche and run with it.
“I just have to go out there and outplay some guys,” the Duncan, B.C., native said. “I have to make a good impression and show the coaching staff what I can do regardless of if it is offensive or defensive or anything else. I have to stand out with one thing that can help the team.”