RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes had just stepped of the ice during the second day of on-ice work at PNC Arena when Rod Brind’Amour addressed the media on Saturday.
Yes, Brind’Amour, the assistant coach talked with media members since head coach Bill Peters was assuming his role as an assistant coach for Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey being played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.
Training camp had started and was continuing without the bench boss in the building.
It’s a different dynamic compared to how past training camps have gone and one that could become a trend for the future if preseason competitions like the World Cup continue to be played at this time of year.
Thus, it was the former Stanley Cup winner with the Hurricanes who gave his thoughts on the day’s sessions.
“It’s a little bit monotonous in what we’re doin’,” Brind’Amour said.
“It’s just systems and just tryin’ to give them a lot of information. We haven’t seen a lot of battle yet – we haven’t done any of those drills yet. We’re just trying to give them as much information as we can and get that out of the way, and then ramp it up as we go.”
Brind’Amour’s candor in describing how today’s training camps function highlighted the lack of excitement and mystery that used to be associated with NHL training camps.
It would be commonplace to wonder who would make a team as the excessive mass of bodies overcrowded dressing rooms and the ice surface for weeks, ready to battle it out accordingly.
Back then, as recently as only 7-10 years ago, players attended camp to get in shape for the season, get acquainted, and do anything they needed to in order to catch the head coach’s attention.
Today, quite frankly, a lot of that is already decided, save for a spot or two on the roster.
Thus, Brind’Amour along with fellow assistant coach Steve Smith, goalie coach David Marcoux, and the rest of the team’s coaches throughout the Carolina system, including Charlotte Checkers head coach Ulf Samuelsson, just took their direction from Peters and got things started to get this year’s team ready for the upcoming season.
You won’t see many surprises in terms of who eventually makes the team.
That’s the way the Hurricanes and other teams in today’s National Hockey League function now.
“We were talking about this before, how different training camps are,” Brind’Amour said.
“I think in the past, and I might get in trouble for sayin’ it or not, there were jobs open when you tried out. I remember at my training camps (as a player) when I first started, there were a lot of spots open and guys were fighting for them. You didn’t know who was going to get ‘em. The game’s changed now. You can pretty much tell who our team’s gonna be. The good news is that there’s always that one or two spots, you might need an extra forward or extra D, so there’s always spots available for guys. But, it’s hard to see (at this camp); you gotta play the game to decide who’s gonna be on your team. Now we’re gearin’ up.”
On Sunday, the Hurricanes held their Red-White scrimmage with many of their prospects divided and placed onto the rosters of both teams.
Team Red beat Team White 3-2 as the team’s faithful fans took in the game as part of the organization’s annual Caniac Carnival.
After starting camp with 57 players – 50 skaters and seven goaltenders – the roster was cut by seven following the scrimmage.
Just two days after stepping onto the ice in Raleigh, Hudson Elynuik (Spokane – WHL), Steven Lorentz (Peterborough – OHL) and Spencer Smallman (Saint John – QMJHL); defensemen Noah Carroll (Guelph – OHL) and Ben Gleason (Hamilton – OHL); and goaltenders Callum Booth (Quebec – QMJHL) and Jeremy Helvig (Kingston – OHL) were assigned to join their respective junior clubs.
Their brief cup of coffee at this year’s camp was sipped from.
Add in recent World Cup participants in Finland’s Tuevo Teravainen and prospect Sebastian Aho, as well as rehabilitating Aleksi Saarela (minor surgery), and Carolina’s camp roster sits at 53.
With upcoming back-to-back preseason road games at Washington and Tampa Bay on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, the next round of cuts will come soon after.
How soon is up to executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis and Peters, according to Brind’Amour.
“That’s up to Ronnie and Billy,” he said.
“I think until Billy gets here, it’s kinda tough to say. He wants to see everybody, or as many as he can. Obviously, it’s gonna be his decision and Ronnie’s who his final guys are, or however this shakes out. We have a lot of games in a short period of time and you wanna give as many people as you can opportunities. I’m assuming it will be a pretty big camp for a while.”
Peters will rejoin the Hurricanes when his time with Team Canada, who is playing Team Europe in the championship final best-of-three series, ends.
He could return as early as this weekend, and no later than early next week.
In the meantime, with so much technology available to communicate with, you would think they Skype or Facetime with each other regularly about what’s going on at camp.
You know, the head coach keeping his hands on the wheel, even from a distance.
“We talked before he left,” Brind’Amour said.
“No Skyping, no. We don’t need to see him every minute. We were prepared when he left, and he said ‘don’t bug me, unless you need to’.”
Even so, as the diligent assistant following orders, Brind’Amour indicated that there was regular contact and how simple it was to follow the head coach’s directions – even if Peters was out of sight, so-to-speak.
“He’s focusing on that (World Cup), but he’s checkin’ in with us all the time, just to make sure everything is goin’ the way he wanted it to. It’s not rocket science.”
Today’s NHL training camp – organized, fast-paced and efficient, and with little guess work involved whatsoever.