The Oilers were on the ice bright and early this morning with Group A taking the first tour of Rexall at 8:15 a.m. There will be no scrimmages today based on the first session. (I will update every few minutes, so check back for updates.)

Group A was on at 8:15 and went through an array of skating and passing drills in the first session.

Hall – Gagner – Hemsky
Tremblay – Lander – Keller
Hordichuk – Brule – Petrell
Hamilton – Martindale – Abney

Whitney – Petry
Sutton (not here wife having baby) – Potter
Tulupov – Plante
Vannieuwenhuizen – Schmidt


They flooded at around 9 and were back out at 9:15. Whitney didn`t return for the 2nd session, just for precautionary reasons. Hemsky is out for the 2nd session, and he did have a little contact in some one-on-one drills, but nothing major. He won`t be playing in any preseason games this coming week.

9:33…Line rushes one way up the ice, with three forwards forechecking in the zone and then transition the other way. Hemsky ends up on a breakaway and Khabibulin stones him with the blocker. Khabibulin looks in great shape. Of course being in great shape doesn`t equate to longterm health, so I`m still cautious.

9:36…Five-on-five scrimmage. Hemsky taking part, and it doesn`t look like he is off-limits. No major contact, but a few battles.

9:38…Tremblay with the first goal. After a turnover in the D zone by Schmidt, Lander flips to a wide open Trembley, who comes from the side of the net and slides it five-hole on Roy.

I wish fans could watch this short five-on-five scrimmage and see the difference between the rookie camp and main camp. The rookies get pressured much quicker and it results in bad passes or turnovers.

9:41…Hordichuk with the first hit…takes a few strides and gets a piece of Tulupov behind the net. Nothing major, but once one hit occurs normally we start to see more.

9:42…Short scrimmage is over. Day one has been pretty basic. 

9:43…After a short meeting on the side boards, they pull the nets out to the slot and they will skate laps to finish the session. Three laps with two groups of five going at the same time…then the other two go…Fun stuff…

Tulupov is big, skates well and he has a heavy shot. Hard to get a feel of his hockey sense or his positioning on the ice. The former 3rd round pick of the Devils in 2006 only played 4 games in the KHL last year. He doesn`t have a contract, but Igor Larionov is his agent, which won`t hurt. We will need to see more of him before anyone can make a proper assessment. He didn`t look out of place.

9:55…Session is over. Guys stretch as a team at centre.

TEAM B is up next..

Smyth – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Tyrvainen – Vande Velde – Hartikainen
Cornet – Pitlick – Pelss
Rieder – Smith – Rajala

Barker – Gilbert
Chorney – Teubert
Motin – Blain


Colten Teubert is not skating. He is sitting in the stands watching practice and he doesn’t look happy. Originally Teubert and the organization said he only had a broken nose, but it sure seems like he might have suffered some sort of concussion from his fight on Sunday. Teubert wants to be on the ice, but the organization is being very cautious with him. I wonder if this is sign that we will finally see teams not allow players to fool the team into thinking they are healthy enough to play. It’s a welcome change. 

It feels like groundhog day…Group B went through the exact same drills as group A…It is hard to get a sense of who looks good or not, but a few guys have caught my eye…

  • Hartikainen looks leaner. He shed about 10 pounds in the off-season and looks a bit quicker.
  • Johan Motin will never play for the Oilers. This will be his last year in the organization, he just isn’t good enough.
  • Eberle looks a touch quicker, which isn’t surprising.
  • Smyth looks exactly the same as 2007. Comes down the wing, takes a snap or wrist shot and stops right at the top of the crease. That’s a play Oiler fans will see 200 times this year and likely never get bored of it.

11:25 Motin takes down Gilbert in a strange collision. Forwards were at opposite ends and opposite corners for one-on-one drills and the D-men were at centre. Gilbert was standing still and neither saw one another. Motin leg-whipped him accidently, but both got up and the boys had a good chuckle.

TEAM C took the ice just after 12 p.m.

Paajarvi – Horcoff – Omark
Eager – Belanger – Jones
Green – O’Marra – Ferguson
Czerwonka – House – Arcobello

Smid – Peckham
Marincin – Davidson
Musil – Fedun


Eric Belanger loves to go top shelf in shooting drills. He’s scored four goals already. I like it when guys shoot to score. Just hitting the goalie doesn’t help anyone.

1:50…3rd and final session wraps up. Czerwonka was the only player who left the ice today due to an injury. It looked like he cranked his neck or shoulder. He didn’t return after walking off halfway through the first session for group C.

The Oilers will have a few quick sessions tomorrow morning before the Joey Moss Cup goes at 2 p.m.

You can expect a few cut as early as Monday, and then a few more after the two games on Tuesday.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Speaking of babies, did Strud’s wife have one yet?

    Do they happen to have name bars on their jerseys? If so I’d really like to see what Vannieuwenhuizen look’s like.

  • Jamie B.

    I’m a little annoyed this first day of training camp isn’t open to the public. When’s the last time the Oilers did that? Last year they even gave us free breakfast. I wouldn’t think the fans are exactly a distraction to the players. If they did it so more people would buy tix to the Joe Moss game, that seems kind of jerkish.

  • K-UGER Industrial Smoothing

    Jamie B, are you freaking kidding me? This is a professional sports team who has been god awful for 5 years, clearly the ways that used to work, arent working now. I hate Oiler fans who have the me, me, me mentality. Get over it man, its one day of camp- in a city where hockey is 365 days a year, not having access to Rexall for the very first skate of the year should be the least of your worries.

    Between twitter, ON and other blogs, plus TSN and Sportsnet’s television and online coverage it should be enough to keep you at bay until TOMORROW!

    • Jamie B.

      Uh, okay. 500 fans watching them run drills is the reason they’re a bad team? All I’m saying is it was fun, like an official “first day of the season” kind of thing to head down to the rink and see all the players again. I enjoyed it, that’s all, it wasn’t about scouting out how RNH looks on faceoffs or anything. It was pretty much the only open practice they ever had and I found it notable that they closed it this year after feeding people free freaking pancakes to get them excited last year.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    How’s the pace of these sessions Jason, are they game pace, or are they Oiler paced?

    This is one thing that needs to change if they want to be competitive again. If they don’t practice it, it’s no wonder they struggle during games. It’s unfortunate they don’t have a leader in place to be the example yet. (maybe Hall will be the one to improve that intensity/tenacity during practices))

    • Jason Gregor

      Practice pace. They are uptempo, and for first day of camp I’d say they are fine. No one is running over anyone, but no one has been half-assing it either. I haven’t found them to be slow or uninspired.

    • Jason Gregor

      Hard to tell to be honest. He didn’t lag behind Hemsky or Hall on any line rushes, but the types of drills they did it was hard to say if he was that much faster.

      Gagner does look leaner than last year, and that often equates to a bit of improvement in speed. I think Gagner’s quickness needs to improve from a dead stop. He’ll never be a guy who will blow by D-men on the rush. Few guys have Hall or Hemsky speed in that regard.

  • Toro

    Good read I think this gives us a real good idea of what the lines will be start of season , Hall Gags Hemsky, Smyth RNH Ebs, MPS Horc Omark, Eager Belanger Jones ….. I likey

  • OutDoorRink

    Jamie, maybe it’s like a coach and superstition with his tie. Last year they invited the fans in and fed them pancakes and some OJ and it was a party and whoopteedoo. But ultimately, the team failed horribly.

    Perhaps they are simply trying to set a more serious tone for the players, right from the get-go. I have no idea why they would switch it up, but don’t sweat it. I live in Calgary and never get to see the Oilers training camp, except over the internet.