Aaaah training camp. Team Passion v. Team Preparation. Green v. White. Sheppard v. Bouchard. Brunette v. Nolan. Nondescript tryout guy v. nondescript tryout guy. You get the picture. If preseason hockey is anti-climactic, then NHL practice is a glorified pregame warm-up. Even my wife’s non-hockey-fan relatives thought we were going to a game, and when we said we were going to practice, well, let’s just say we got a few confused looks. As if to say “You drove all the way up here to watch a practice?”
All that said, it was a good time Sunday at the REA in Grand Forks. For me it turned into more fun watching Adriana at her 1st hockey experience. I know, I know, she’s only 10 weeks old…she’s not going to remember a thing. But she was watching something down there on the ice, and I’m going to choose to believe that we’re planting the seeds for a lifetime love of hockey. I do, however, have some catching up to do, as she left the arena with more Fighting Sioux clothes and I am still looking for respectable UMD Bulldog infant garb.
I’m not going to recap everything that happened at practice and the scrimmage. I’ll leave that to Russo. But I do have some impressions that I’ll pass along:
- Everyone hears this and I’ve been there many times so it’s nothing new to me, but the REA is sick. Every time I go there I can’t believe I’m at a college arena. There was a decent vibe in the town about the Wild. We went to Green Mill Saturday nite and we were asked if we were going to the practice, and we saw a good bunch of Wild clothing about town.
- Marek Zidlicky can skate, and Marc-Andre Bergeron is tiny, although not quite Pterri Nummelin tiny.
- During the scrimmage, Bruno set up shop once or twice behind the net. It will be nice to see that again this season.
- Derek Boogard played the scrimmage like he was an offensive force. He stick handled and got shots on net. I’m sure that won’t transfer into the regular season, but it was interesting seeing a different side of his game.
- James Sheppard looks funny wearing number 51, and Craig Weller wearing number 12 is just wrong.
- Mikko Koivu and Colton Gilles were locked into a nice puck possession drill. Mikko clearly was dominant, but Gilles did show some grit.
- Gabby did not practice or participate in the scrimmage. Apparently he is injured, but since we didn’t know that at the arena I jumped to the “superstar in contract negotiation” card. I’m still suspicious.
Here are a couple pics…
And a video of some tryout players practicing that oft-used tip play from the opposite goal line.
If you’re interested, there’s more pics in a set on my Flickr site.
1st preseason game is tomorrow (Wednesday). I’ll have to read about it in the Blogosphere because I’ll be at Twins v. White Sox at Metrodome for the next biggest game of the season for the Twins!