We had the chance to catch up and chat with Sens associate coach Marc Crawford at the conclusion of Day 2 of Development Camp. Surprisingly, Crawford has never been involved in a camp like this during his 20+ years as a coach and has many thoughts on the process which I've highlighted below but you can listen to our full conversation here...
His initial thoughts about Development Camp:
For me it's my first Development Camp ever. All the years I've coached in the National Hockey League and all the years that I've been involved with hockey it's the first one I've actually been involved in so it's kind of nice. It's good to see the thought that comes behind the development that's needed so you've got the development of players in just their participation level, their energy level their commitment level.
On what he's looking for out of the prospects this week:
You've got to be an elite worker because everybody works hard. Everybody is committed so you've got to go that extra mile and you've got to be really pushing the envelope in terms of trying everything you possibly can do to try and get (to the NHL). Having said that, now you start looking for people who are doing a little bit extra. A little bit extra when you're tired, a little bit extra when you don't feel so good.
His thoughts on the first on-ice session of camp:
To see the things that we were trying to accomplish with our players yesterday, to give them an idea of what an NHL practice is like and the level that you have to be at to really flourish. We made the comment at the end of the practice that if we were grading that practice we'd probably grade it a 2 or a 3 out of 10. There are so many levels of participation and commitment but on execution we probably would've marked that a 2 or a 3. Execution is something that you're always after. That's the goal, to try and show that to these young developing players.
On what he likes about the process of developing players:
This is my fist year here but talking to a lot of the people who've been here, they're giving you information on where they see the improvements in the players that have come in the second year around and some of them their third camp. That's all really interesting for me. I like the process. There are so many different ways that you can be a player. You can burst on to the scene and all of a sudden just be great, those are always nice to have happen (laughs), but more often than not it's going to be slow and steady. Again, I'd say finding improvement and seeing improvement from people is really where it's at. You always have to be striving for the next improvement in your game, the next step along the way. It's hard work but it really pays off if you can do it.
On having the chance to get to know the Binghamton Senators' coaching staff this week:
From that standpoint it's just terrific. You get to know these guys. I've seen them, I've coached in hockey for a long time and I know these guys and the reputations they have but to get to know them a little bit and for them to get a feel of what I'm about and to put them at ease. We're here as a resource and my experience has always been that the head coach doesn't have the time and he doesn't. He gets pulled in so many directions. I know during my time in the American League it was the (NHL) assistants that I talked to. Sharing that with Kurt and Steve who's been a head coach at the NHL level, they know that's where it is so we want to have really good communication back and forth. If there's a question system-wise and what we're doing and how we're doing it then I'll be the guy that can relay that to them.
On how his role with Binghamton will benefit the NHL club:
We think it really will have a translation when we call people up and now you're getting the info right from the coaches there as to how they play and they're speaking the same language as we're speaking. They're understanding the same terms that we're going to be using here and you can't afford to lose anything in the translation anymore. Games are so important and points are so important. You'll always see that at the end of the year when it comes right down to it so I think it's just another detail but it's one that we want to make sure we take care of.
On the talent level he's seen at camp so far:
The talent level is unmistakable. You could pick out 7 or 8 guys there and say "wow...there's a lot of things they do well". My belief, and I don't speak for everyone I just speak for myself, you always want to have an NHL skill and if you have two of them...boy you're going to have a chance to play. So whether that's great speed, whether it's great puck protection, whether it's great stickhandling ability, whether it's great vision, whether it's great toughness or great power...if it's at an NHL level then you've got a chance and there are a lot of people here that have at least one skill out there.
On his experience coaching in Europe:
Coaching doesn't change dramatically from country to country but training techniques sometimes do. There are certain things that work. They do an awful lot of skill development work as they're preparing to be plugged in to organizations and I think that they do a really good job of that skill development work.
On coaching concepts he's learned in Switzerland that could be applicable in Ottawa:
The biggest thing I'll bring back from the European game is that video coaching is really good and it has it's place but I don't think anything replaces on-ice practicing and on-ice techniques. There might not be as much practice time over here but that doesn't mean that it has to be long and arduous and overwhelming for the player. When you can show somebody something and you can come back on the ice and say "this is exactly where I mean, right here, this is where it's really important, this is the skill that you really need to focus in on", that's something I'll be really adamant on here because I've seen how well it works.