RALEIGH, N.C. – As their blades continued to make deep cuts, the contingent of Carolina Hurricanes skaters at Raleigh Center Ice last Friday presented a youthful energy about them.
Grizzled veterans like Tuomo Ruutu, Jay Harrison, Tim Gleason, and Mike Komisarek exhibit and apply their energy with a selective and experienced focus and intensity.
On the other hand, 21-year old Jeff Skinner has endless and youthful energy to unleash on a daily basis and must work to harness and release it at different gear levels.
After finishing last season ranked fifth in team scoring (13 goals, 11 assists), and missing five games due to a concussion, Skinner doesn’t have to worry about getting a regular roster spot like other younger players in the organization do.
More so, his focus coming into training camp must be on increasing his scoring output and to stay near or at the top of the team’s stat sheet.
It’s what is expected of him, particularly after he finished second in goals (20) and third in points (44) in 2011-2012, and second overall in scoring (31 goals, 32 assists) behind captain Eric Staal during his Calder Trophy-winning rookie season.
In order to do so, Skinner has to become a smarter player and one who can play an entire NHL season without getting injured.
Skinner’s returned to Raleigh with no physical issues, in shape at a solid 195 pounds, and knows that everyone in the room is picking up their intensity daily as the opening day of training camp approaches.
“It’s always exciting coming back at this time of year,” he said.
“You want to get off on the right foot every season and I think this time of year is when you gotta’ get itchin’ to start and get goin’.”
While he took a month off after competing for Team Canada in the 2013 IIHF World Championship tournament, he got back on the ice in mid-June and worked on some different areas off the ice as well.
“A little bit of a different philosophy every summer,” he said.
“This summer I was workin’ on goin’ back to basics – movement patterns relating to hockey.”
While Skinner focused on sport-specific and hockey-related exercises to build on his strength and balance to help him increase his endurance and durability, he’s now picking up his pace on the ice and is ready for camp to begin.
“Just rampin’ it up now.”