A blank canvas. A new beginning. A freshly-scraped sheet of ice. You get the idea.
The promise of an NHL season is perhaps never more radiant than in mid-September. Throughout the summer, the players have trained, the coaches have studied and the fans have counted the days until the puck drops once again.
Good news: you don’t have to keep counting much longer.
The puck drops for the 2014-15 season on October 9, with preseason games starting next week.
Even better news?
Training camp starts today.
The Nashville Predators will partake in physicals, as well as off-ice testing and meetings on Thursday, followed by the first on-ice sessions on Friday. Hockey is back.
But before game number one begins, the next three weeks will be utilized to implement systems, test line combinations and ultimately make decisions that could have indelible impacts on the season ahead.
Here now, a refresher on the gentlemen that will be making those decisions and competing for roster spots and ice time over next 21 days…
The hiring of Peter Laviolette marks the most noticeable change in Smashville, but he’s not the only new face behind the bench. Kevin McCarthy, who also served alongside Laviolette during stints in Carolina and Philadelphia, will concentrate on working with the forwards as well as the team’s penalty killing unit. Phil Housley enters his second season behind the Preds bench as an assistant, continuing to oversee the defensive corps and power play. Ben Vanderklok moves into the role of goaltending coach, after holding the title of assistant goaltending coach for the past five seasons.
Changes on the ice primarily come in the form of the forward position. James Neal, Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy, all veteran NHL names, will skate in their first training camp as members of the Predators on Friday. Rookie Tournament standouts Filip Forsberg and Kevin Fiala are also among those looking to crack the roster. In total, the Predators have 18 forwards that saw action at the NHL level last season vying for spots up front. Let the battles commence.
Shea Weber will once again lead the Predators defensive corps, but he’ll gain a fellow veteran on the blue line in the form of Anton Volchenkov. Together, the two will be joined by other Nashville regulars like Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Victor Bartley. While there may be a wealth of stability on the backend, veteran Joe Piskula or newcomer Johan Alm could contend for an extra roster spot.
After missing 51 games last season due to injury, Pekka Rinne is back. The former Vezina Trophy finalist is hoping to not only remain healthy, but to regain his 43-win form obtained just three seasons ago. With Carter Hutton expected to be Rinne’s top backup, the goaltending position, at least on paper, looks to be the least-contested position headed into camp.
So there are the basics. Want a full camp roster (61 players)? Click here. Want five things to watch for? Here you go.
Want to watch those things play out in person? Absolutely.
Below is a full training camp schedule of the team’s free and open to the public, on-ice sessions, all of which will take place at Centennial Sportsplex.
Friday, September 19:
-Blue Group: 8:45 a.m. - 10 a.m.
- White Group: 10:45 a.m. - 12 p.m.
- Silver Group: 12:45 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday, September 20:
-Silver Group: 8:15 - 8:40 a.m. (Goalies), 8:45 a.m. - 10 a.m.
- White Group: 10:15 - 10:40 a.m. (Goalies), 10:45 a.m. - 12 p.m.
- Blue Group: 12:15 - 12:40 p.m. (Goalies), 12:45 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Sunday, September 21:
-10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
-Scrimmage @ 12 p.m.
Monday, September 22:
- 9:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m., 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Tuesday, September 23:
-11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Wednesday, September 24:
-10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., 12:45 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.
Friday, September 26:
-9:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m., 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Tuesday, September 30 – Friday, October 3:
Tuesday, September 23:
-6:30 p.m. @ Tampa Bay
Thursday, September 25:
-7 p.m. vs. Tampa Bay
Saturday, September 27:
-3 p.m. & 7 p.m. vs. Florida
Monday, September 29:
-7 p.m. vs Columbus
Saturday, October 4:
-6 p.m. @ Columbus