Check back here for updates throughout the day. I’m here at Rexall, hungover, and I’m not leaving until it’s all over. I’ll be adding updates at the end of this post, so check back and and your comments.
8:36… First day of Oilers training camp, and I can honestly say the only reason I am here this early is that YOU, the Nation faithful, paid for my trip to the Draft back in June. No way would I have shown up this early if you guys/gals hadn’t stepped up. I’m a firm believer in paying it back, so to all of you who donated I applaud you while silently cursing your name at this ungodly hour. I haven’t been up this early on a Sunday all summer, but the good news is that the AC seems to be helping my hangover. Awesome.
8:42… This is my 8th training camp and I can’t recall one that had this much focus on system play. Normally we’d be watching scrimmages by now, but Pat Quinn wants the players to understand every aspect of this system.
8:49… Wayne Fleming and Tom Renney are running the practice for team A. Quinn stands in front of the bench monitoring the troops. Team A consists of:
O’Sullivan — Horcoff — Hemsky
Reddox — Potulny — Fretter
Stone — Schremp — Linglet
Brennan — Comrie — Bates
Souray — Visnovsky
Arsene — Taylor
Wild — Bendfeld
Khabibulin, Pitton and Perugini
Why they have three goalies in this season is mind blowing. The young P’s share a net, while Khabibulin tends the twine at the south end of Rexall. I don’t see why they need eight goalies at camp, especially when we all know that NK and JDD will make the team.
8:52… Brownlee strolls in. How a married guy with kids shows up after a single guy who has four pieces of gum in his mouth in hopes of masking the his booze breath is beyond me. I will say that the STRIDE commercial boasting how long the taste lasts is complete bogus. I’ve pumped five pieces in and I’ve only been here 25 minutes. I think Hubba Bubba’s flavour lasted longer.
9:00… Team A leaves the ice and the zambonis come out for a quick flood.
No one really stood out since it was a lot of line rushes and break outs, but Schremp does look a step faster. Patrick O’Sullivan is my early pick for break out player of the year. He looks comfortable on the left side with Horcoff and Hemsky.
The most interesting thing to note is that Billy Moores is sitting with the Oiler brass watching practice. He is still on the payroll and I’d bet he’ll be scouting for the Oilers this year.
While all of the players left the ice, Hemsky sits on the bench during the flood and had a lengthy talk with Wayne Fleming. It looked like Hemsky was doing the talking and Fleming was listening. Fleming is a great hockey mind and it is not surprising that he wants to understand how the most talented Oiler thinks the game. Hemsky leaves the conversation with a big smile on his face.
9:20…Team A is back on the ice, and today looks more like a regular season practice, with one-on-one line rushes. Schremp undresses Jake Taylor and then goes top shelf over a sprawled Pitton. Best goal of the day so far.
9:30… Quinn is living up to his reputation of letting his assistants run practice. Renney stops the 3 on 2 rushes every time they don’t break out how he wants it and Quinn quietly watches. Schremp just pots another beauty off the post and in. I don’t think he has a chance of making the team, but in a practice situation is natural skill is very noticeable. His skill set is world class.
9:35…Souray looks very good so far. He has broken up the last three rushes with perfectly timed poke-checks. I’m sitting in section 119, while all the fans sit across the ice in section 136,101 and 102. I just notice a guy wearing an Oilersnation T-shirt. I’m too lazy to walk over there, but a big shout out to whoever is sporting the colours this morning. And I just decided that if Wanye is going to be a “story-breaker”, then I’m going to drag his sorry ass here next year on day one of camp. Take the good with the bad Wanye, and trust me 8:30 in the morning on a Sunday is the bad…ha
9:42…Springfield is going to be way tougher and harder to play against this year. Arsene and Taylor both have and edge on the blueline, and Brennan is huge. Brennan skates fairly well for a tough guy, and has looked pretty good this morning.
10:15…TEAM B is now on the ice, and today will be like ground hog day. Three sessions, and the only thing different will be the players on the ice. Quinn wants all the players to know what he expects of them, and considering they only have two days of camp before the preseason, the coaches have no choice but to focus more on systems than they usually would.
Team B consists of:
Penner Gagner Eberle
Jacques Pouliot Stortini
Trukhno O’Marra McDonald
Emmerson Lerg MacMurchy
Deslauriers and Roy
10:35.. Battling drills down low, one-on-one and two-on-two. Penner pulls a sweet, puck-between-the-legs move and dances around Grebeshkov, only to by stymied by JDD. I said it earlier this week that Penner looks a touch slimmer. It intersesting how in these drills they have the NHL guys at one end, and the AHL guys at the other. It is pretty obvious which players the coaches think have a shot to make this team. I’m not surprised at all, considering it is pretty obvious which players have a chance.
10:43…best hit so far today as Colin McDonald rocks Bryan Lerg into the boards on a two-on-two drill. I can’t wait until tomorrow when the guys actually scrimmage. Team B leaves the ice for a flood.
11:04…Team B back on the ice and the first casualty of camp. Olivier Roy hurt his shoulder after taking a shot from Penner. Roy leaves the ice in obvious discomfort. You hope for his sake that it is nothing to serious. Nothing worse for a young guy than getting hurt on the first day of his first NHL training camp.
11:05…***Sidenote…Dolphins/Falcons game just started and the Fish will win.***
11:06…Back to hockey…Practicing with only one goalie sucks, you have to think they will bring one of the three goalies who were scheduled to be part of TEAM C out early. The sad part is that only Lerg and Stortini scored on the empty net during one-on-one drills.
11:11..Stortini and Gilbert are sporting trimmed locks, and to be honest it’s not a good look for either of them. Stortini’s shaggy look suits him and his on-ice persona much better. I’m betting he grows it out as the year progresses. Gilbert looks 15 with the short hair, and I’m stunned he trimmed it because he loved his locks last season. You wonder if both wanted to come in looking sharp for their new coach???
11:18…Devan Dubnyk comes out as the 2nd goalie, and so far he hasn’t let in a goal. This is a huge year for both he and JDD. One of them probably won’t be part of the organization next year, when both have to clear waivers.
11:25…Had a lengthy chat with Patrick Laforge and he’ll be on my show tomorrow discussing the rink and also the Oilers television schedule. They will officially announce it later this week and there will be a small wrinkle for a few games. Right now it looks like one or two games might not be televised, but they are trying to work it out.
11:30…Team B is done for the day. They will now go do an off-ice workout.
11:50..TEAM C is on the ice now and here’s the line combos.
Moreau Cogliano Pisani
Nilsson Brule Minard
Cornet Paukovich MacIntyre
Czuy Kytnar Lazo
Dubynk, Sorochan and Mucha in goal.
If you are wondering where Theo Peckham is, he is out with an ankle injury.
12:01…The final session is underway and it’s the exact same formula. Some end-to-end rushes and then right into SYSTEM 101. The focus is on defence. They want the forwards to help out a lot in the defensive zone. Quinn has a reputation of wanting an uptempo style, but listening to the players he has preached defence first. Yes, he wants them to move the puck up the ice quickly, but it will all start with solid defensive coverage. The forwards will need to be much more responsible it sounds like.
12:05…I still don’t think Cogliano is best suited to play on the 3rd line, and I don’t expect him to be there in a three weeks. I don’t put a lot of stock into some of the combinations. Comrie skated with Bates and Brennan and I’m pretty sure the Oilers aren’t planning on playing him in a 4th line role.
12:35…Needed to charge my laptop…and now I’m good the rest of the day.
During my computer downtime I saw Pat Quinn talk the most he has all day. He addressed team C for about five minutes explaining in detail what he wanted from them during the next drill. It has been interesting listening to the players talk about Quinn. Every player I spoke with raved about his motivation tools and how inspirational he has been already.
12:43…Nilsson has been the best player this session by far. He just walked around Dudas and then finished with a nice deke around Dubynk. Making a good first impression will be key for Nilsson, and it is clear that he will need to prove to the coaching staff that he deserves to be in the top six. I’d say he has been the best player overall on day one.
12:51…I tip my hat to the diehard fans who have watched all three sessions today. And a big thank you to the two blondes who showed up for the final session. Pick me ups come in many different forms and there is nothing better than beautiful women. This final session is winding down, with some end-to-end line rushes. This is the only session that hasn’t had a flood halfway through and the ice is getting pretty choppy now.
12:56…I just thought of a great contest we should do here on the Nation. Predict the game that Smid scores in. He has gone two full seasons without a goal, after scoring three his first year in Edmonton.
12:59…Day one is over. Outside of Olivier Roy’s shoulder there were no injuries. Roy was fine in the locker room afterwards. The Oilers will practice again tomorrow at 8:30, and for fans it will be much for enjoyable because there will be two scrimmages tomorrow.