by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
Day one of training camp afforded fans of the Big Cats a peek at Ellis and the usual suspects as they were put through their paces. The drills and thrills made everyone there wish for temper to fugit the heck on so the wunderkind Spit (and Watson and Pickard and Latta and…and…) could come here to stay. Let’s face it, the Shiny New Kids get shinier and prettier every time they come to play; but as Coach Trotz observed, “Sometimes players aren’t ready yet at twenty-one or twenty-two. They’re ready when they’re ready.” Ah well, Predsnation can enjoy the kids while they’re here and be happy when the time comes.
As for the veterans, Trotz went on to say that overall, the vets were doing quite well and he was particularly impressed with the improvements he had seen in the body composition and quickness test results for JP Dumont and Steve Sullivan. Joel Ward’s skating showed marked improvement from last season which could have been a result of training coupled with a full recovery from the injuries he incurred last year.
This year’s training camp is geared more towards scrimmages, which is a good way for the coaches to get a better look at the prospects before they have to make what could be some tough decisions in a couple of weeks. There are a lot of good kids on the ice, so it’s not going to be easy. While there might be a way to finesse a Disney ending for some players in the form of roster spots among the D and forwards, the only assured opening is the much-discussed second goalie berth.
All of the candidates have their strengths; but who is truly able to play in Pekka Rinne’s traces? The favorite among the denizens of the ‘Plex is Admirals’ netminder, Chet Pickard. The gold medal winner from New Brunswick seems like a good fit and while his style between the pipes is different from Rinne’s ,one thing he does seem to share with the Great Wall of Finland is a degree of confidence and focus that makes everything he does look deceptively easy.* A decision is coming soon regarding that spot and other ways the 2010/11 edition of the Predators Roster will look. In the meantime, the combination of hard, competitive play to prove who is worthy of a place in the Den combined with building a cohesive team continues.
*A quick note for you armchair masked rangers: Rinne is indeed gifted, but I’ve watched the kid work and work and work some more to stay as good as he is. Character and work ethic aren’t just catch phrases from Horcheck and Petersen for the guys with mics, people. The guys in the Ice Tiger laundry seriously live it.