by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
While getting ready to watch Saturday morning’s exhibition of drill after drill after drill, I thought back to a tweet I’d gotten from one of the eight people who are nice enough to read my writing. They mentioned that Gelinas and crew were in Rink B. At the time I was still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’d spent two days wondering why Gelinas had shaved his head and totally missed the most important piece of information that SLPreds had so kindly provided.
There was another rink.
There was another rink where something other than synchronized skating was going on and I wasn’t there. I contemplated this as the zamboni made it’s zen-like, circling path around the rink and wondered if I should just call it a day and write some haiku about the whole week.
rookies on their blades
skating in a formation
the coach taps his stick
lost hockey writer
watches players circle ’round
“Why bald, Gelinas?”
And then the meditative, white void that was the rink was changed by the presence of Colin Wilson, who set up the goals, brought out buckets of pucks and proceeded to skate around, slapping pucks against the walls and into the nets. He devoted a couple of minutes to doing puck tricks on the blade of his stick and it was then that I realized that there was training and then there was theatre. Oh, we were seeing the boys put through their paces to be sure, but there was something about the whole thing that just felt too formal, too polished, too much like everyone had their company manners dialed to ten.
The Rookies’ opening act on Saturday was Colin Wilson and Puckie.
Somewhere the real hockey, the game that the rookies seemed to be itching to play when they were doing the Boy Scouts on Ice routine, was happening. After the usual exercises were over I noticed some of the fans who had been watching were headed down a hallway into -HUZZAH!- the other rink.
This was where the real scrimmaging was going on. This was where the guys were yelling, checking each other hard, teaching some lessons at the crease and generally acting like hockey players. Budish, Ellis, and Roussel were in the same great form as last year, only a little older and one year closer to wearing Predators laundry. Watson was everything Poile promised he would be. I, along with all the other fans, watched in bliss as we saw the future of Nashville’s team and I have to tell you, the kids are all right.
Wrapping Things Up At Camp Smilodon
Sunday afternoon brought more fans and harder play since it was almost all about scrimmaging this time. In place of the Busby Berkeley set piece was something closer to what would happen if anyone ever did a mashup of Lord of the Flies and Rollerball.
Hey, there’s Piggy! Let’s get him!
The festivities ended with the presentation of the Best of Camp Cup to the yellow scrimmage team. They paraded it around the rink to cheers from their teammates and the fans and then dropped to do a “Stanley Cup Pose” to the imaginary photographers and hoi polloi on the other side of the rink. With that, camp was over and the speculation about who would end up playing in the Den with the Big Cats was about to begin.