The Sharks first day of training camp went off without a hitch under the watch of third year Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. Divided into two groups, the players took part in two on-ice sessions and headed home after in preparation for day two.
There was no doubt conditioning is not the same as full speed with the coaches pushing players, but the Sharks group has reached as far as possible in anticipation of the first day.
“There is a lot of excitement and a different feel in the room,” said Joe Pavelski
of opening day. “If you’re in game shape you won’t feel it tomorrow. The guys felt pretty prepared, but you are still going to feel something tomorrow. It’s the start of drills and going full speed.”
Bringing back the “system” is as important as the players’ physical abilities.
“The coaches do a good job of running camp and getting the system and foundation across to the players,” said Pavelski. “The first day was intense. We wanted to have a good first practice and we’re off to a good start.”
“It’s nice to have it more organized,” said Dan Boyle
. “Even though we’ve had the captain’s ice, it’s not real tempo and you have the bad habits. It’s nice to get the structure back in our game. Tomorrow will be nice to get the team scrimmage going.”
McLellan will tweak some things with his club as the camp thins out more, but will work hard on the basics until then.
“Not a lot of new, a lot of old reinforcement and refreshing,” said McLellan. “Reminding them how we want them to play. It’s new for a number of people. The veterans have gone through it for two years, but a number of new faces are learning it. As a staff we have to make sure we’re bring both groups along together.”
With Antti Niemi
’s new equipment not yet in camp, the Sharks players must have felt like the playoffs were still going on as the Finnish netminder was trying to stop the Sharks shots in his red Chicago goalie equipment.
“The mask should be (here in) less than a week,” said Niemi. “He (the designer) can almost decide what he wants and then he sends me what he is drawing.”
Niemi did acknowledge that having Sharks defending players helping him prevent goals made him feel more like a teammate.
“I like having the group, most of the guys are in the same group so it starts to feel like that,” said Niemi.
NOW VERSUS THEN
Pavelski, now a strong veteran presence in the room, recalled his first training camp.
“The first time I remember stepping out against (Kyle) McLaren and I remember being against him in the corner in one of the drills and thinking how big he was. I hadn’t seen anyone that big and strong before in college. There is definitely a learning curve. This being the fifth year, I have more strength and experience. You feel a little more comfortable in those corners.”