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Head start, 'accountability' key to Stars' development camp

Peverley, McQueen helped raise the bar for prospects this year with a Navy SEAL-like training challenge

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The Stars on Friday wrap up their Development Camp, a time designed to help young players in the system understand the basics of what the organization is seeking.

This year, J.J. McQueen and Rich Peverley, the team's two player development coordinators, brought in a Navy SEAL to give a lecture and also took the players through a SEAL-like training challenge.

"The theme is accountability," said McQueen. "The SEAL was excellent, because it fell right into our picture that we were trying to paint. He gave different directions and different ideas on how they do stuff, and it really lined up with how athletes need to do things."

 

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The Stars invited 37 players, ranging from recent draft picks like Thomas Harley, 17, to 25-year-old free-agent signee Emil Djuse. The week-long camp allows players to get familiar with the organization and the practice facility in Frisco, as well as get some instruction on how to train once they leave.

Being at Comerica Center also allows for players to see how close they are to playing in the NHL. Stars captain Jamie Benn is among the pros working out every morning before the camp begins, and Peverley said that example alone is worth the time spent in Texas.

"When we're here, it's learning how to work out," said Peverley. "Some guys think they are working out hard, but there are always ways to improve. Look at Jamie here in the morning, he pushes himself as hard as anybody. The kids coming in and seeing that finish, that almost is a lesson tool better than any of this stuff."

A lot of the players will be taking the lessons back to their homes for summer workouts and then onto their teams in Europe or junior hockey or in college. Others will be making an impression on the pro coaches that will continue through the prospects tournament in Traverse City and then into training camp.

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"You want to perform your best every day," said 2017 second-round pick Jason Robertson, who will be on the Texas Stars roster and has a chance to make his NHL debut at some point in the 2019-20 season. "I work out with the belief I'm going to play on the team this year, and this is a great way to start that."

McQueen is starting his 25th season with the Stars and is the former strength and conditioning coach. He has been training young athletes for years and still is pushing for new ways to spark their interest.

"The key is how. How can you hold yourself accountable?" McQueen said. "Here's how you're going to do it. You wake up every day and lay out your plan. At the end of the day, you ask: 'Did I reach my plan?' It's a process, and you need to work to get that consistency every day."

Peverley said having the experience of going through the NHL helps in imparting lessons that he might have needed when he was 21.

"I think it's just great learning tools that they can soak up and absorb it as much as they can," he said. "I think J.J. does a great job of organizing and getting great speakers here. These are people who have valuable experience in life. They'll make you a better team, make you a better individual."

And that's the goal.

"It's a chance to get connected, it's a chance for me to know where they are," McQueen said. "You give them a plan, and then you keep in touch with them. It's the start to what they'll do all year."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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