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Each Year, Development Camp is a Chance to Teach

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

After wrapping up the second day of on-ice work at Dallas Stars development camp, forward Scott Glennie admitted he was a little tired and a little sore. He and his fellow prospects had been on the ice for close to three hours, and then had some off ice workouts as well.

“They’ve got us working pretty hard here,” said Glennie. “We’ve got a new stickhandling guy this year and he’s taught us a lot. I think our wrists are a little bit sore, but it’s been fun.”

Stars' prospects take part in a number of stick-handling drills during camp

Working on skills such as stickhandling and methods for off-ice training are key components of Dallas Stars development camp, which began Thursday in Frisco and runs through Thursday July 12. More than 40 players are attending the camp, including several of the Stars’ top prospects and all nine of the team’s 2012 draft picks.

“A big thing is to get them all involved with each other, all the draft choices and the prospects we have. That’s number one,” said J.J. McQueen, Player Development Coordinator for the Stars. “Number two is to put them in an environment where they can improve their skills and learn some techniques of training both on the ice and off the ice.”

“The philosophy of the camp is to give them some things they can take back with them that will help develop their game,” said Brent Severyn, who is the Development Camp Coordinator. “All the drills you are seeing here are developed off their scouting reports and specific areas that have been given to us by scouts of the Stars.”

That new stickhandling guy that Glennie was talking about is Pertti Hasanen, who is Director of Hockey Operations at Boston University.

“He’s their skills coach and I watched his practice when I went to see (Alex) Chiasson in college last season,” said McQueen. “So we invited him and he’s helping with the camp.”

Hasanen and Jack Bowkus, who operates out of Los Angeles and has been a mainstay at the Stars’ development camps in recent years, are the key guys when it comes to the on-ice skills drills.

“The camp is really about skills,” said Severyn. “We don’t want them to be scouted. We are here to help them with their development, that’s the major goal. With Jack here, he’s exceptional at those types of things – moving the puck, stickhandling, control, puck skills.

“Pertti is coming in and giving a different feel this year. Both these guys have a similar philosophy, just a different look, a different feel and different way they produce the drills. The kids are getting a lot of different voices from different people.”

When you watch the drills you’ll notice a lot of pucks being lost and players stumbling or even falling down. That’s part of the plan – take the prospects outside of their comfort zone in order to help them get better.

“Here we want them to lose the puck, we want them to skate faster than they are normally used to, and that will develop, improve and broaden their game a little bit,” said Severyn. “That’s what we are here to encourage.”

“Some of the drills will go pretty good and then you will have a couple that will humble you,” said forward Austin Smith. “It’s a learning experience and it is good to go through it.”

The Stars encourage the players to continue to work on the skills development after they head home to continue their training this summer.

“We’re taping this, so when they leave we’ll give them a package of some skills and drills they can do when they get some free ice time,” said McQueen.

It’s much the same with the off-ice work and conditioning, which is another big part of the camp.

“We’ll give them a package on our summer training program, a review of what should be happening each day,” McQueen said. “We go through the exercises with them so they physically understand what is going on, more as a teaching purpose than a workout. They’re still getting a workout, but we’re teaching proper technique to make sure they understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.”

There’s also guidance on nutrition. Some of the players put together their menu for a week, which will then be reviewed by a nutritionist.

“She can add to what they are not taking in, tweak it a little bit to help them reach their goals,” said McQueen.

An important part of camp each year is to teach the prospects and help them develop into pro players

The camp is designed to help the prospects along the path to becoming a pro player. Stars assistant coach Paul Jerrard gave a talk on the transition players will go through as they make the jump from juniors or college to the pro ranks. It’s not all just playing hockey. It’s about getting out into the world and living life on your own.

“You’ve got to cook for yourself, find your own place to live,” said McQueen. “There are a lot of variables that come into play that they haven’t been involved in. It’s a learning process all the way through.”

And the Stars believe these development camps pay dividends. They can look at the players who have been through the process, attending the camps over the years, and the progress that they’ve made on the ice and off the ice.

“It’s an introduction to our organization. It’s learning to be a pro, and preparing for what’s ahead,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “You start to see the rewards of that as the years go on. The Reilly Smiths and Chiassons are starting to get games in the NHL, and they have been through this process a few years now. I think we’ve put an emphasis on development, particularly this week when we have all our kids together. It’s important for our franchise.”

Prospects get instant video review

There’s a high-tech element to some of the instruction being done at the Stars development camp this year. When goaltenders Jack Campbell, Tyler Beskorowany and Christopher Nihlstorp hit the ice with goalie coach Mike Valley to begin the on-ice sessions at the camp, Stars Video Coordinator Kelly Forbes was threre armed with an iPad, which he used to shoot video of the drills.

“We’re using the iPad this summer, especially in the development camp, to get instant feedback for the kids,” Forbes said. “We tell someone to do something on the ice and they feel like they’re doing it, and as a coach you see they are not doing it as well as they should, so basically we are filming them and showing them. Basically, it is instant feedback.”

Camp Coordinator Brent Severyn said Valley is a shrewd user of the technology.

“He’s got a program on there that as he is talking he can telestrate and show them immediately where their body position is,” Severyn said. “When you get that instant feedback, it is a good thing for anybody.”

The app being used is called Coach’s Eye. Severyn said he has a better name for it.

“The video doesn’t lie,” he said.

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