During the CBA negotiations we kept hearing about "pressure points." Now that the boardroom bargaining is over and the NHL is back, the pressure definitely shifts to the 30 coaching staffs for a very short Training Camp.
As we all know a normal training camp lasts two weeks. It is the biggest opportunity for the coaches to lay the foundation of their teams. A proper training camp gives the coaches valued time to implement systems, test and improve the conditioning of the players, evaluate players, create and re-create line and defense combinations, just to name a few important aspects.
In this very short training camp almost all of the important details are out the window. Five or six days just isn't enough time.
So what to do?
I talked to Todd McLellan last week and asked him his goals for this camp. He told me the main goal of the Sharks camp was to get the players up to competitive speed. The team needs to experience the speed, battles and physicality of the NHL game.
The Sharks are a veteran team so the coaches don't need to spend a lot of time re-inventing the game. However the team desperately needs to improve the Penalty Kill so the coaches will spend time on that with valuable input coming from the new members of the staff, Larry Robinson and Jimmy Johnson.
The challenge for Todd McLellan and his staff is there will be an uneven level of game readiness. Some of the team have been playing competitively this season either in the minors or in Europe while others have trained and skated sporadically. Mind you if you're not in shape right now it's your own damn fault.
That uneven competitive edge will last all season as well. The guys that have played all fall season will get fatigued nearing the end of a jam packed 48 game season. The others should be feeling energized and hitting their physical peak. That is another challenge for Todd and his staff to manage.
Here Todd can rely on the words of the Great Mike Potenza, the Best Strength and Conditioning Coach in the Galaxy, who once stated, "I don't believe in over training, I believe in under rest."
This season will be a challenge for all players and coaches. Fortunately the Sharks are an experienced team. Even better, this team is led by one of the brightest hard working Head Coaches in the game. His efforts are bolstered by the Hall of Fame and 9 time Stanley Cup Champion Larry Robinson. Jimmy Johnson a veteran of over 800 NHL games is an enthusiastic positive teacher. The hard working omnipresent Jay Woodcroft and Video Coach Brett Heimlich leave no stone unturned in preparing the players.
In other words despite the obstacles of a short camp. The Sharks are in very good hands.