#ClearyWatch kind of stole the spotlight for the first day of training camp, but there's been a lot more happening on the ice that I'd much rather talk about. There's a buzz in the air, not only because we get to watch the likes of Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the ice, but because hockey season is almost upon us. Training camp is the time for all the players, both newly signed and team veterans, young and old(er) prospects and current team members, to get back into hockey mode and prepare for the best season of them all.. Hockey season!
While all the prospects in camp have reason to bust their butts and try to impress the coaches and brass for a future job with the team; most of the players already on the team are taking this opportunity to get back into hokey mode. The drills and practices are all business and work, and Mike Babcock makes sure everyone's paying attention and focused. The players take the scrimmages seriously, but there is also some fun to be had between the players who, in some cases, haven't seen each other for a while. The fans in attendance at Centre Ice got a good laugh out of Pavel Datsuk knocking Kronwall onto his back and making him look like a turtle that was turned over. There's a lot of joking, ribbing, and friendly harassment on the ice between the Red Wings regulars and it was nice to see the players enjoying being back playing together. Even some of the coaches take a little time during the practices to have a little fun and mess with the players; Babcock wasn't one of them, in case you were wondering. While there's some playful action on the ice, it's not all fun and games. Mike Babcock works the players hard during practice, running 5 on 5 drills, PP drills, and a plethora of other exercises to get the boys ready for game action and improve their skills.
I have a confession to make though. For me, the prospect development camp and prospect tournament are more exciting than the Red Wings training camp. It's not that I don't thoroughly enjoy getting to watch my favorite players up close and personal, it's just that with the NHL players, we pretty much know what we've got and what kind of players they are. It may not come as a shock then, that probably the thing I look forward to the most about training camp, is getting to see the young prospects skate with the big club. Poor Jared Coreau got bested 1 on 1 by Henrik Zetterberg and beaten by Pavel Datsyuk. How's that for your first taste of the big show? In the first scrimmage, Xavier Ouellet looked pretty decent... except while he was going up against Zetterberg. I love seeing our kids get a tiny taste of playing against competition at this level. While the competitiveness is obviously toned way down, the NHL'ers sometimes don't mind showing the youglings just how much they don't' know.
With the immense coverage training camp receives in the media, I'm not going to rehash all the stories you've probably read a dozen times already. Instead, I bring tidings of good news...
Todd Bertuzzi looks healthy, mobile, and ready to go. Actual game action will be the test or course, but he said he feels great and his performance on the ice corroborates his story. Jimmy Howard looks like he's been working out on and off the ice this summer, and Jonas Gustavsson has looked reassuringly good so far. He doesn't appear to have any soreness or difficulty moving, and he looks much more comfortable in the crease and *fingers crossed* hopefully the summer of healing, working out, and working with his coaches have readies the Monster for a great season.
There are still some big decisions to be made before the season officially starts, and I know I won't be completely happy with them; but since there isn't a damn thing I can do about it, I'm going to enjoy training camp, the pre-season, and everything hockey that I can.
Hockey is almost here my friends, can you taste it yet?