After two years of having training camp in the Dallas Stars fanatic hotbed of Prince Edward Island…the 2013 camp was held just out to the west in Fort Worth.
Yes, the seafood wasn't as fresh, but the travel and rational were much much better.
Here are some quick thoughts on what was an enjoyable three days in the town of the cow:
• I really like young defenseman Kevin Connauton. Smart, good size, reads his options well while both defending and on attack.
•Jack Campbell has 'decaffeinated' his game. Stars goalie- whisperer Mike Valley has implored the excitable 2010 first round pick to embrace the less is more approach. Campbell himself told me he has spent a lot of time incorporating meditation and yoga into his mental prep. I won’t say he looks calm as a reflecting pool but he’s made enormous strides.
•Tyler Seguin? Phenomenal with the puck but you also see his strong Bruins DNA in how he plays responsible without it. Him look very, very good back at center.
• Jamie Oleksiak is a large human being.
•Very apparent to me was a focus on intensity. Some recent camps were so bogged down with ‘teaching’ and systems work that they were glorified walk-throughs. This camp was full-throttle and full-contact from the get go. Call it the Lindy Effect.
•Camp invite Brendan Ranford accounted for himself quite well. No shock. He’s a Kamloops Blazer.
• If you wear #29 as a Star you better be a hundred percenter. Curtis McKenzie is.
•Training table food at The Omni was beyond delicious. I ate like I was still a player yet I trained like a 40-something broadcaster - bad combo. Lindy is spot on when he smirks and announces “NHL, stands for Never Hungry League”.
•Every time I looked at Ray Whitney down there on the “conditioning quality” ice, I’d wonder aloud, how much do you think the 41 year old is enjoying THIS?
• Most truly enjoyable name to say: Jyrki Jokipakka
•The new skinny NHL nets were undetectable to the naked eye - which is a good thing.
•Hybrid Icing seems like a good idea. Might save a career or two, or a life, if it gets adopted after the preseason.
•I conducted a couple interviews without cursing. Always a camp hurdle for me.
• Speaking of interviews, Shawn Horcoff is a Hall of Famer. Thank you probing Edmonton media.
•Again, I love the high number boys being told they will be sporting 'traditional' hockey numbers this season. Garbutt #16, Roussel #21, Jordie Benn #24.
•18-year-old Valeri Nichuskin is a load to handle already. Yes, he does remind you a lot of the Penguins Evgeni Malkin.
• Sergei Gonchar is syrupy and cerebral. A joy to watch. Makes game look easy and simple.
• Sadly, I did not have time to dole out bull riding lessons at Billy Bob's.