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Training Camp Blog: Day Two

by Dallas Stars Staff / Dallas Stars

Throughout training camp, different members of the Dallas Stars will sit down and share their thoughts on the day’s events leading up until Opening Night.

Day 2: September 20, 2008
Left Wing James Neal

Today’s the second day of camp – time to get on the ice and get some scrimmaging in. I’m staying at the Embassy Suites, so we woke up around 9:15 a.m. and got some breakfast. We came over to the rink and did a quick off-ice workout because we didn’t skate with the early Group (Group A). So we did a little workout then went right into the scrimmage. I was on the Black Team, playing alongside Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson – two good linemates. It was the first scrimmage and it went pretty well, even though we lost, 2-1, through two 20-minute periods. Afterward, Group B had a quick practice on the ice with some conditioning skating at the end. We’re getting ready for tomorrow and now we’ve got some down time for the rest of the day, so I’m going to rest up for tomorrow and the exhibition games that are coming up.

Overall in camp, I feel good. Coming in last year, I was obviously trying to come in to take a spot and play in the NHL, but it turned out I needed to go back to the American League. It’s always tough when you get sent down when you have such high expectations for yourself coming into camp. It was better for me though, and I matured, got better and got the experience I needed. I feel good coming into camp now and I think I’m ready to play in the NHL.

Before camp here in Dallas started, I was up with the team playing in the Traverse City tournament. I’m older now, this is my third year there, so I knew exactly what to expect and I just wanted to make a good impression and get ready for camp. We had a good team and things went really well in Traverse City, and now we’ve just got to bring that momentum over to camp here in Dallas.

Winning the tournament was a great accomplishment. You always want to win when you’re in tournaments like that – everyone is so competitive. At the same time, it really got me ready for camp. I got my game legs and it gave me some game experience and now I’m ready to go for camp here.

This year and in this camp, I’m just trying to focus on getting bigger and stronger. As a young guy, that’s something you’re always trying to work on. I’m just working on some little things and trying to absorb everything around here, and watch the guys that have been around the League for a long time. You just want to do things that will help you get a spot and stay in the NHL as long as you can.

Everyone’s been great around here; I can’t even say one guy’s been helping me more than the others because everyone in the dressing room is so nice. Marty Turco, Modano, Morrow, Trevor Daley … you can just keep going around the room and they’re all great. They’re always talking to you and always helping you out. It’s a good atmosphere, and they’re great guys. I got to live with Trevor last summer, and I was able to work out with him every day. He’s a younger guy, too, and he showed me how hard he worked and the time he spent in the gym doing the little things that make him so good on the ice.

As far as making the team this year, I’m a year older and have a year of playing in the AHL under my belt. I think I’m ready and I feel ready to make the jump to the NHL. It’s a dream come true to be in this position, and I’m just trying to make a good impression to everyone and get myself a spot to play in the National Hockey League.

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