There was a buzz at the Enmax on opening day of Hurricanes rookie camp. Here’s what stood out…
It felt great to head down to the arena last night to catch a few hours of Canes’ training camp. The fact that the season is only weeks away didn’t seem to hit me until I walked through the doors and saw everything in place for hockey. The next few weeks will be a blur for players, staff, and fans as there is much work yet to do. For my part, I was able to make it to the rink for 5:30, and missed a good chunk of the first on-ice session (team White). I did, however, get a good look at the second group and some of the vets during the goalie session. Thoughts below….
- Kudos to coach Kisio. From what I saw, the coaching staff seemed really in control of the overall pace of practice. Things appeared to be well organized and the players were engaged. I noticed Kisio often pressed for more speed/intensity from players mid-drill with a yell or a stick tap as they flew by. I understand little details like that can be over analyzed, but in my opinion, those same little details add up to something far more meaningful with time. I am interested to see where things go from here, but based on what I saw last night, I like the attitude/confidence that is projected by the coaching staff.
- There genuinely seems to be a positive energy surrounding the team this year. Between interactions with fans, chatting with some staff, and watching some of the vets interact, I noticed early on that things seem loose. It’s hard to describe, and shouldn’t be read into too much, but positivity can be just as infectious as its counterpart, and there is certainly a positive undercurrent within the team right now. With that said, positivity is fleeting and ultimately meaningless unless it is mentally channeled into a winning attitude. For now I think it’s worth celebrating the absence of hesitation/organizational weight on the players. At least from a distance, they seem very happy to be here as part of the Hurricanes. It’s a good sign and I think Anholt deserves the lion’s share of the recognition for it.
- Whether fairly or not to the others, I spend a good chunk of practice time watching the higher profile bantam picks. Zane Franklin and Nick Watson (pictured above) stood out to me during the second session. Franklin moves quickly and I was impressed by the heaviness of his shot and the quickness of his release. Watson also moves very well, and during one drill, consistently placed a perfect shot past the goaltender while streaking down the left side of the ice. I was really impressed to see a left-shot player consistently score those goals high glove side shooting across his body.
- The new NHL caliber boards and stanchions installed at the Enmax Centre look great. Since there was no real contact last night I didn’t have a chance to see the difference in movement, but I imagine it is significant. The boards and glass look great and should be much safer for players. The safety aspect is highlighted by the curved glass at the ends of each bench. If you remember, the NHL brought the curved glass in after Chara took Pacioretty hard into the bench area a few years ago. Once the final sponsor artwork is installed on the boards, the hockey set-up at Enmax will be the best it’s ever been. It’s great to see all of the positive additions that have been made to improve the Enmax for hockey in recent years. While some changes were mandated by the league, the building has never been better suited to cater to hockey-goers and I’m glad the City of Lethbridge has worked with the team and the league to keep the Enmax relevant.
- Thanks to everyone who came up to say hi and those I was introduced to yesterday. It was great connecting and talking hockey, CanesDomain, and life, even if it meant I missed a good chunk of the on-ice sessions.