by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
LeBron who? For all anyone knew, LeBron could have been working out with former UAH Charger captain Dwayne Blais and Mitch Korn at the ‘Plex. There were no names, not even a bar code to indicate who was who to the Preds faithful in the stands. Did it matter? Only a little. Hours and miles away from the premiere of LeBron’s one-man show, “An Evening With Brett Favre”, the story at Centennial was all about Blais and Korn saying “Jump!” and the rookies asking “How high?”
The goalie cubs were drilled and drilled again while at the other end of the rink Blais barked orders at the skaters, commanding them to turn six feet plus and nearly two hundred pounds of hockey player on something thinner than one of those pretty little dimes with ships on them.
Watching the forwards go through their paces is a bit like watching a very stringent dance teacher. As they spin, skid, turn and then skate at top speed. Blais praises some players and taps his sick impatiently on the ice when two rookies collide and end up in a pile. Gravity is nobody’s friend as they skid and try to do the neat as a pin turns that seem to come like breathing to the veterans. In spite of this, he barks and taps, demanding that they focus as they wait in line, run through their routine and then wait again. Everyone is consciously defying the laws of physics and their own tendency to think. The objective, to let the primal that was employed to hunt to take over, only now in the name of play. It doesn’t take long for some of the players begin to show their game face, their posture indicating that this would soon be second nature. The steps, the dance is starting to feel right and they’re going to be ready to play (by Nashville standards) fairly soon.
Almost everyone is all concentration right now. We have still yet to see anything like the gleeful, barking mad enthusiasm that Ryan Ellis exhibited during the expo day at last year’s camp. Maybe that is still to come. I hope so. Having written that, it is only fair to add that the urge to play in the face of all of this drilling is strong. Players slap the pucks that slide within range against the boards, likely in part for the noise but also possibly to get some sense of completion and reassurance that within this work is a game to be played.
The looping, swooping drills and the barrage of frozen rubber being fired at the goalies is almost hypnotic. What can’t possibly be forgotten by anyone is that there is teaching but there is also the underlying need to be teachable now and coachable in the future. A lot is at stake here. that everyone is watching to see who stands out and who will need more tiem to develop and mature.
At the end of the session we saw the return of what could only be described as controlled Ragnoroc. Multiple pucks flew as the players rifled pucks at the goalies and the coaches skated around and through the madness, picking out instances where players did well and seeing areas where there was room for improvement. As we head towards the midpoint of rookie, it will be interesting if we are given a look at who is leading, who is being lead and who will wear navy in Nashville in 10-11.
Tip of the Kats gimme cap to SLPreds for letting me know via Twitter that the person facilitating the power skating exercises was not Gelinas. Thanks!