The what if game was part of the lockout lexicon last week, when a potential deal was looming. What if things get done ASAP and players are looking at a very brief training camp? Like perhaps a week, or just a little more?
Well, be it the excitement of getting back or counting the workouts theyve already done, players said a shorter training camp is just fine by them.
I cant speak for everyone but most of us would be ready to go, former Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell said. Im sure first couple days will be tough, but were all hungry to get going.
Many players have been skating at Johnnys IceHouse West for a few months now. Current and former Blackhawks who have been consistent participants include Campbell, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Jamal Mayers and Troy Brouwer. For them, the informal skates, which were Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, were a good way to stay in shape.
A lot of guys are skating as hard as they can, staying in as much of a game shape as possible, Brouwer said. Camp is going to be intense; guys are going to be pushed pretty hard. I have no doubt the intensity and pace will be high when the season starts.
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Still, theres a big difference between skating and doing drills and game action; and theres no way to simulate it other than going through the real thing. In that respect, those who played in Europe these past few months (including the Blackhawks Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and Michal Rozsival) will have an obvious edge.
The rest will have to adjust quickly, but Campbell doesnt see it being a problem.
Im sure the first three or four days are going to be tough days; the bodys going to be worn out from that. But itll catch on pretty quick, Campbell said. Hopefully everyones ready, especially our team (the Florida Panthers). Hopefully we can go forward and get off to a good start.
The fact that this hockey season is finally starting at all may be just the motivation most players need to be perfectly fine with the brief camp.
Its always tough to re-create that game-like situation, that intensity, Brouwer said. Guys may be sucking wind the first couple of games. But theyll be so amped up to get back that the pace of play will be high.