Monday, September 20, 2010

Main Camp

This weekend I experienced my first NHL training camp by attending days one and two of the San Jose Sharks main camp. I don't think any other sport allow their fans that kind of access to their players or team personnel.

I was able to speak with GM, Doug Wilson, and Director of Pro Player Development, Mike Ricci, over the weekend - both were extremely friendly and forthcoming with information.

Watching the players take the ice for flow drills brought back memories of what training camp felt like for me when I played. Unfortunately, I was usually a bubble player so I sympathized with the players that made mistakes that were most likely due to nerves rather than lack of skill or poor decision making.

Highly paid players like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley looked relaxed, but focussed, and were able to enjoy being back out on the ice with the boys.

Newly signed goaltender, Antti Niemi, looked pretty awful - his mismatching equipment included - getting abused by snipes from the Sharks' forwards. Dany Heatley was shelving pucks on Niemi so hard that Mike Ricci exclaimed, "he's shooting BB's today!" as he and the scouting staff enjoyed the success of the assembled forwards.

The inner-squad scrimmage was very entertaining for the capacity crowd on hand, Douglas Murray came to play as he pasted Devin Setoguchi into the boards early on. Seto got up with a smile and had the last laugh as he would score the game-winning goal off a one-time feed from Joe Thornton.

The competition looks strong from the depth positions at forward as well. It will be hard to cut players with size and toughness such as 6'4 235 lbs forward Brandon Mashinter who was a standout player in the YoungStars tournament last week in Penticton, BC.

It will be interesting to see how the roster is trimmed in the coming weeks.

Look for my review of the Sharks' annual Teal vs White game being played Tuesday night at HP Pavilion.

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