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Stars Itching to Get Camp Started

by Steve Hunt / Dallas Stars

On Friday in Prince Edward Island, the Dallas Stars officially kick off preseason with the start of their 2011 training camp. They won’t begin skating until Saturday morning and will have three days of workouts before opening preseason play on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Montreal. Much of the roster has been in Frisco skating on their own for a good part of the last few weeks, but the official start of camp signifies something a bit different.

It will be the group’s first supervised workouts under new head coach Glen Gulutzan. And with seven new players on the roster, it will also give the squad a good chance to get acquainted with all the new faces on the ice.

However, the few days in PEI will also serve an equally if not more important purpose off the ice as it will be a chance for the entire roster to bond as a unit and build the esprit de corps that any team needs to make it through the grind of an 82-game NHL regular season,

For Stars center Steve Ott, getting away from Frisco, even if it is for just a few days, is one of the big plusses associated with training camp getting underway.

“I’m excited. The main reason I’m so excited is to have a chance to get away and go to PEI because last year was a very successful training camp. You get to spend some extra time with your teammates. You get to learn the new guys. We have a lot of new guys coming in. You build a camaraderie and a brotherhood early,” Ott said. “Without going away, it’s tough to do that because guys are going to their families, heading home and separating. But having the chance to get on the road with each other, bond, hang out plus work hard together, that’s what starts building that foundation of a team. We had that last year.”

But that chance to bond isn’t the only reason the players are excited about the start of this year’s camp. After skating on their own for the last few weeks, it will be good to get back on the ice under the watchful eye of their new head coach, who will bring more structured sessions than they’ve had over the last several weeks.

“Yeah, I’m feeling real anxious to get going here. I’ve been here now for a little over two weeks doing some preparing before everything starts. You can see guys have been here early this year. That’s a small sign that everyone wants to get going,” defenseman Nicklas Grossman said. “You can see everything is starting to pick up on the ice. You can see it in everyone’s eyes. It’s going to be good to get camp going with a lot of hungry guys around. It’s going to be fun.”

Fellow blue liner Alex Goligoski, who is set to begin his first full season in Dallas after coming over from Pittsburgh just prior to this year’s trade deadline, is also itching to get the preseason officially started.

“I’m very ready, almost ready for training camp to be over and it hasn’t even started yet. I just want to start playing,” Goligoski said. “It’s not like it used to be when you’d come into training camp and that was the start of everything. Guys train all summer, play and have probably been skating for two months. You’re ready to go at this point. It’ll be nice to get it kicked off and have some scrimmages going.”

With a new head coach and so many players new to the roster, the players admit the start of this year’s camp has a bit of a different feel to it than it did in years past.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of excitement. Any year, there’s going to be a lot of excitement because you’re heading into another year. But this year, that’s especially true for this team because we have a new coach and quite a few new guys, more than normal I’d say,” center Toby Petersen said. “There’s a lot of anticipation as we head into Friday and get up to PEI. I think everyone’s excited to get the physicals, testing and everything done so we can get on the ice and get to work.”

However, the more veteran members of the team know that the start of training camp is only the beginning. They realize that heading to PEI is just the onset of what will be a nearly seven-month stretch until the end of the regular season. Of course, the Stars hope their year doesn’t end in mid-April like it did last year.

But captain Brenden Morrow admits the onset of camp is merely the undercard until the real games start, which comes on Oct. 7 against Chicago at the American Airlines Center.

“That’s the fun stuff. This is just anticipation and leading up to it, once the preseason games start and weeks start ticking away until Oct. 7. It’s exciting. These are exciting times but we want to get started,” Morrow said.

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