Monday was the first day of the Sabres’ 2012 Development Camp, and it got off to an early start for the 39 prospects in attendance. A very early start in fact. Because that’s what happens when you have to start your day with a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call to work out with a group of Navy SEALs, before spending an hour on the ice in front of coaches and management.
“That was an interesting, early morning, this morning,” explained Luke Adam. “I don’t think I’ve been up that early since I probably had to catch a plane somewhere.”
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After being shuttled from their dorms to Woodlawn Beach, the players were put through their paces by this group of highly-trained warriors. But it’s not simply about the physical aspect of training with the SEALs. Their individual roles as members of a team become the focus.
“It’s a lot of mental training. I don’t know if it’s as much a hockey player as it was a person,” explains Adam. “They said ‘we’re not training you from the neck down; we’re training you from the neck up.’
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“It was just little things, like this morning. They picked up every bottle that the guys left at the supper room last night, and we were punished. ‘How much is this bottle worth?’ Then we’d have to do 50 pushups. ‘And what about this bottle?’ It’s a hundred squats for that. It’s almost like your mom: make your bed properly, clean the bedroom and clean up after yourself.”
Working with the SEALs will be just one part of each day for the prospects, but Cody Hodgson thinks it will be an invaluable training tool for all involved.
“Obviously from a physical side, you’re going to be in great shape working with them. I think more importantly it’s the mental side, with some of the stuff they have to go through, and the attention to detail they take into their jobs. Hopefully we can take some of that and relate it to our job as well. We have a lot of respect from them, but even more appreciation for them now.”
While there’s no doubt the players will sleep well tonight, Corey Tropp believes team-building events like this will be something they’ll reflect positively on down the road.
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“It was a tough morning, but it’s also good. It’s a good opportunity to push yourself, and these are the kind of things that bring teams together,” said Tropp. “It’s all about working hard. I don’t know if two weeks ago I’d tell you that I’d be jumping in the lake at five in the morning, but it was fun. It was a good time…maybe good time is an overstatement. But it was a good bonding experience. It’ll be good for all the guys. It will help us come together, and show some of the younger guys how hard you actually do have to work, and how hard it is.”
Tropp said his run through the lake wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be, describing the temperature as being “like bathwater.”
“It definitely could’ve been a lot colder. I think the good weather in Buffalo here the last couple of weeks helped us out.”
Forwards Jacob Lagace, Christian Isackson, Shawn Szydlowski and defensemen Mark Adams and Brady Austin were the only players not to take part in Monday’s on-ice sessions … A crowd of approximately 500 fans took in the first day of camp at First Niagara Center. The players will be back on the ice Tuesday and Wednesday starting at 10 a.m. Admission and ramp parking are free both days … The Blue & Gold Scrimmage will take place Thursday at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, and can be purchased at the First Niagara Center box office or online at Tickets.com.