RALEIGH, N.C. – When a player steps onto the ice this season to skate for the Carolina Hurricanes they will know who the leader is.
Yes, it’s an obvious answer by his title alone, but head coach Bill Peters didn’t just stride along and gaze at the team’s draft picks and prospects when they began camp at PNC Arena on Monday.
He was fully into it the session – striding long while shouting directions and instruction at every turn in between making frequent whistle blasts.
After going through their initial conditioning work earlier in the day to begin, or continue for some, their apprenticeships into the organization and the National Hockey League (NHL) lifestyle and regimen, their intense 75-minute on-ice practice provided the first glimpse for media and team front office staff of what they looked like as a group.
As part of their first day, under the direction of Peters and his coaching staff (Rod Brind’Amour, Steve Smith, Glen Wesley, Cory Stillman), those young players were to understand the most basic concept required of successful pro hockey players – to work hard and to learn to do it properly with the expectation to yield successful results from it.
“They’re gonna’ learn how to work,” Peters said.
“They’re gonna’ learn that we’re gonna’ come in and do things right. We’re gonna’ do things with pace. We’re gonna’ have some details to what we do in the drills. I’m only gonna’ stay on the ice 20, 25, maybe 30 minutes, I doubt more than 25 minutes a day. Then Stiller and Wes and those guys are gonna’ do good things with them individual skill, one-on-one stuff like that. They get a good foundation of what we’re all about as an organization and they also learn from Pete Friesen and some of the nutritional stuff they’ll go through. So if you’re payin’ attention and wanna’ get better, this is a good week to do that.”
Though he said he would stay on the ice for up to half an hour before leaving the rest of the on-ice sessions to his assistant coaches, the beads of sweat that dropped from his brow showed the intensity and fervor he put into doing what he was hired to do – coach.
“It’s just part of bein’ part of the practice, bein’ engaged, bein’ fully involved in what you’re doin’,” Peters said when asked what kind of message such involvement sent to the players.
“That’s the way we do it. Roddy’s gonna’ be the same way. Smitty’s the same way. There’ll be a lot of energy, up-tempo, and it’ll be a lot of fun. We’re lookin’ forward to the year. We’re excited.”
As 26 prospects – 13 forwards, 11 defensemen, and two goalies – were put through their paces in skating, puck handling, passing and shooting, and puck battle drills, they left a good impression on the head coach after the first day.
“A lot of skill – some good size,” Peters said.
“Obviously some of the D-men were real good movin’ the puck and had good feet. I thought it was impressive for a group that has never done anything together basically, they moved the puck well and I was impressed…Pace was good. At this time of year, I don’t know how much of on-ice they’ve done. A lot of guys are at different stages of their development in the offseason, liftin’ weights and doin’ other things. I thought they battled through it and did a good job.”