When the Sharks rookie camp opened up on Saturday afternoon for its first on ice session, it officially marked be beginning of NHL hockey in the Bay Area for the coming season. Now every shift on the ice could be the next step to opening night for some hard working prospect.
For the youngsters, they have been waiting all summer for the puck to drop and to get things under way.
“It was a good first skate,” said Taylor Doherty
, a 2009 pick. “The guys were hitting and throwing the body around.”
Even the coaches were energized about real on ice action.
“It’s the first day of camp, but I was up at 3:30 in the morning,” said Worcester Head Coach Roy Sommer. “It may have been the time change a little (3 hours from the East Coast), but it’s exciting.”
The players at camp are among the best on their junior clubs, but when they come together, it makes for a higher level of talent than they are accustomed to.
“Obviously this is a whole new level,” said Doherty.
Prior to the on ice portion, the Sharks medical staff took their necessary looks at the players.
“They took blood, did an EKG and did a little fitness test before the skate,” said Brodie Melnychuk, a tryout player.
Most of the participants landed in the Bay Area on Sunday and camp literally took on the meaning it did when they were kids attending hockey schools as they hit the hotel and met their roommates for the first time.
“I’m rooming with Carter Bancks and I’d never met him,” said Kevin Henderson, who is attending his fifth rookie camp, but his first with San Jose. “It’s always good to meet new people.”
Sommer ran things on the ice while Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan viewed things from up above.
“I think it went all right,” said Sommer. “Day one of every camp, the guys are nervous and the passes are a little erratic. For the most part, they got what we were trying to get across.”
Sommer is straddling a fine line right now as he attempts to get the foundation of McLellan’s system across while not inundating the players with too much information.
“We’ve got two days to prepare for three games,” said Sommer of the upcoming rookie games with Anaheim. “You want them to pick up on the system, but you don’t want to get too much into their heads. You want them to play the style that got them here. If you’re a tough guy, play that role. If you’re a goal scorer, you want to do that and the other things.”
Day two is Sunday with the rookie games beginning on Monday. It may be Labor Day weekend, but none of these players wants any time off as they’d much rather have an opportunity to make an NHL roster.