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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres
Joel Armia was absent for the second day in a row, and Sabres GM Darcy Regier confirmed that Buffalo’s 2011 first-round pick will not be attending development camp at any point this week. Armia will remain in Finland fulfilling both his Finnish Elite League and National Junior Team obligations.

I’m not an intimidating guy by any means. The guys can come and talk to me whenever they want. - Tyler Ennis
Despite playing in all 82 games for the Sabres last season, Tyler Ennis is still part of the 41 skaters at camp this week. Similar to Tyler Myers last season, the Sabres require all players on entry level contracts and less than 120 NHL games played to attend development camp each summer. For Ennis, it’s an opportunity to break from his normal summer routine to get a more serious workout in.

“It’s a great chance to get some extra work on my skills in this environment,” he explains. “I can’t do this back home when we just rent the ice.”

Ennis also understands he’s somewhat of a celebrity to the other campers, but shrugged off the notion that some of the other players are scared to approach him for advice.

“I’m not an intimidating guy by any means. The guys can come and talk to me whenever they want.”

Photo: Carolina Hurricanes
It’s been almost 14 years since Kevyn Adams was a rookie with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Back then it was all about conditioning, self motivation and trying to be ahead of the curve in order to get ready for his first taste of the NHL. Now a Player Development Coach with the Sabres, the 36-year-old Adams is a strong believer in how Buffalo uses this week to prepare their prospects for what lies ahead.

“Toronto didn’t do any this when I came up. I think this is just so important for the guys to not just be exposed to the coaching staff and how the Buffalo Sabres play, but also the teaching aspect through video and translating to the on ice drills. Just understanding what the Buffalo Sabres are all about will be instrumental in their development.”

The focus of the early part of the camp is on skill development through the on-ice drills and daily video sessions. Adams said they aren’t as concerned about certain players standing out in the drills as they are in seeing continued improvement.

“I like to see guys start to play at a little higher pace as the week goes on, so that when they leave here, they are thinking quicker and making quicker plays,” he explains. “The NHL moves fast and we like to play a fast game. Our message is to get quicker in all aspects of your game – hands, feet and how you process the game in your head.”

Adams also realizes the importance of the off-ice meetings, and how they can use those to further enhance this experience. They try to emphasize to every player that it’s not just about how fast you can skate or how hard you can shoot the puck.

“That’s the message we try and get across: if you think you’re doing enough, you’re probably not. You need to work more, learn more, study more, and ask more questions. It’s part of our duty as a staff to give them the truth and reality of how difficult it is to play in the NHL. And in the process, give them every chance to succeed.

“You can’t just have a camp for a few days and expect them to get the message. We need to teach, use the video. Each player is different in what they need, and we need to help each player learn what it takes to succeed. It’s up to us to give them the best opportunity to become an NHL caliber player.

Even though Adams is relishing his time on the ice with these youngsters, don’t expect it to stir any thoughts of a comeback.

“I do feel young, but my body doesn’t,” Adams said with a smile. “I love being on the ice, interacting with the guys and seeing their enthusiasm. It wasn’t that long ago that I was their age. Just being on the ice and seeing their excitement is fun for me.

On-ice workouts continue Thursday and Friday at Dwyer Arena beginning at 9:45 a.m. Several hundred fans attended today’s session, and crowds are expected to increase each day this week. Intra-squad scrimmages are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
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