Back to work for NHL players Friday as training camps open league-wide. Players will report to their respective teams for physicals and testing then hitting the ice tomorrow.
The end of this interesting off-season was capped off by rookie camps and tournaments with many of the rookies/prospects earning a roster spot for main camp. The Vancouver Canucks hosted a YoungStars tournament in Penticton, British Columbia, my old stomping grounds when I attended an international tournament at the Okanagen hockey school. Fans were treated to some very entertaining games and were able to catch a glimpse of many first-rounders including Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler. Anaheim, San Jose, Calgary, and Edmonton were among the teams that were invited by Vancouver.
For the players already with positions secured with the big clubs, some will sport a sweater with a new logo in the front for the first time ever - Mike Modano, Marty Turco, and Alex Frolov are to name a few. How will these players prove they still have what it takes to make impacts on their new teams?
Expectations will be high for Ilya Kovalchuk after his contract saga that resulted in rejections, investigations, a mandate on future long-term contracts, and fining his new team the New Jersey Devil for $3 million plus some draft picks. Kovalchuk's $100 million contract will certainly send a current Devil packing in order to move the team under the cap - you have to wonder how that's going to impact the Devils' locker room dynamic. I personally think the whole situation is setting itself up for a bust, but that's me.
The Washington Capitals will do their best "San Jose Sharks" and "San Diego Chargers" impressions as it won't matter how their regular season finishes, they'll be measured in post-season success. Capitals' forward, Niklas Backstrom, told the media yesterday that after going up 3-1 against the Canadiens, the team relaxed which ultimately lead to the come-from-behind win by Montreal.
Pre-season games will start next week and the regular season will begin the first week of October. It's finally starting to feel a lot like hockey season.