Marc Staal's approach to training camp is the same as a 10-year pro as it was when he arrived for his first camp in 2005.
"I've been here - I think this is my 11th season here now. I'm not naive. I don't take anything for granted," Staal told reporters on the first day of on-ice testing. "I come into camp with that mindset every year. You've got to earn your minutes. That doesn't change my mindset going forward."
Head coach Alain Vigneault on Thursday said Staal is entering training camp as a player who must fight for minutes this season. With that said, though, Vigneault said he and the organization still have full confidence in the 30-year-old to play a big role on the team in 2017-18.
"If we decided to bring Marc Staal back, it's because we believe in him," Vigneault said. "Anybody that questions his character would probably be wrong. There's a guy who's come back from two serious injuries, has played some big minutes, big games for us in the past. I like Marc Staal. I believe in Marc Staal, but at the end of the day, this is probably the first time in a while that he's fighting for a spot in minutes, and he knows that."
Staal said he understands he has to be better than he was a season ago. He missed several games with an upper-body injury in the middle of the year and admitted he had difficulty getting back up to speed.
"There are some ups and downs with every year. It took me a while, after I got injured there, to get back to where I wanted to be," Staal said. "I think any time you lose like you do against a team like that in the second round, on a personal level, you need to be better. It goes for me. You want to be at your best getting into those situations. The goal this year is to build on that starting with today to be at your best come that time again."