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Predators open training camp

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

Ryan Suter and Pete Weber
Photo: Doug Brumley
Predators defenseman Ryan Suter (right) records radio messages for local stations with Predators play-by-play announcer Pete Weber during the opening day of Predators training camp.
In a telltale sign that the hockey season is just around the corner, the Nashville Predators opened training camp Thursday morning at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Fifty players made their way through a gauntlet of stations that included physicals, vision tests, administrative tasks, and media interviews--one day before officially hitting the ice for the first time. A number of off-season moves meant that the stream of players was without some familiar faces but dotted with a number of new ones.

"It feels a little different," forward Steve Sullivan said of the new mix of players. "Strange a little bit. I think that there were a lot of changes done to our hockey club over the last four or five months and I think that we didn't feel we had that bad of a season. Bad luck going into the playoffs, but the changes that we've made, we're excited about. It makes our team that much better."

"Obviously I believe this is the most talented group that we've had," said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. "This is the first step of becoming a team, so we're excited about having everybody in and getting to work today and tomorrow."

One of the most recognizable new faces is center Jason Arnott, a notable free agent signing for Nashville in early July.

"For me it's exciting," Arnott said. "It's my first time here, so you just get to know everybody and meet everybody. It's a hectic day. You go through a lot of testing and a lot of things to make sure you're all right to play."

Sullivan is one player on his way back from off-season surgery. He reports feeling good in pre-camp skates over the past several weeks, returning from sports hernia surgery in May. "Obviously I haven't battle tested it yet, and we'll find that out first thing tomorrow morning," Sullivan said, referring to Friday's scrimmage. "I'm sure some guys will be willing to try it. I'm looking forward to being on the ice with the guys."

A repeating theme on the first day of camp was the high level of competition expected this preseason. Fans can get a taste of this competition Friday morning, when the first practices and scrimmage will take place at the team's practice facility within Centennial Sportsplex. All on-ice events at the Sportsplex during training camp are free and open to the public.

"It's going to be very competitive," Trotz said. "Up front, I think to get the pecking order of our forwards is going to be very difficult because there are so many good ones. At the same time, there's a real good battle on defense--a lot of young guys that are pushing for position that I think have real good upside. I think they're ready to make the next step. There are some guys that are coming in from other organizations who are trying to make a statement in our organization that they belong. I think there are some great battles. As I was saying to the players, if you don't bring your 'A' game, you're going to be replaced pretty quickly because of the fact that we have good competition."

"There are a lot of unanswered questions," Sullivan said. "We've got a lot of guys in camp that can do the job so it's going to be a very intense training camp and there is going to be a lot of shuffling around of the lines, trying combinations to find some chemistry."

Team chemistry will be aided by a trip to Orlando for the final week of camp, Sept. 24-29. "We wanted to go to Orlando and put some really good work in, spend some time together to get to know each other, and sort of bond a little bit as a group of 25, 26 players," Trotz said. "We can then come back unified, ready to go at the start of the season."

Upcoming Training Camp Schedule

Friday, Sept. 15 - Blue and White Groups
9:00-9:45 am - Blue practice (Centennial Sportsplex, old rink)
9:00-9:45 am - White practice (Centennial Sportsplex, new rink)
10:00-11:00 am - Scrimmage (Centennial Sportsplex, new rink)
10:00-11:00 am - Goaltenders (Centennial Sportsplex, old rink)

Saturday, Sept. 16 - Blue and White Groups
9:00-9:45 am - Blue practice (Centennial Sportsplex, new rink)
9:00-9:45 am - White practice (Centennial Sportsplex, old rink)
10:00-11:00 am - Scrimmage (Centennial Sportsplex, new rink)
10:00-11:00 am - Goaltenders (Centennial Sportsplex, old rink)

Sunday, Sept. 17 - Predators at Columbus Blue Jackets, 5:00 pm
Team vs. Columbus
9:00-10:00 am - Practice (Centennial Sportsplex, new rink)
5:00 pm - Game vs. Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
10:00-10:45 am - Practice (Centennial Sportsplex, old rink)
10:45-11:45 am - Scrimmage (Centennial Sportsplex, new rink)


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