Sorry for the delay in this - I took a bunch of pictures at the camp but came home and couldn't find the cord to download the pictures to the computer. So before you no longer care, I thought I'd throw up a few thoughts from yesterday's training camp. I'll add pictures later if I ever find that damned cord. UPDATE: Finally found the cord..
First of all - McClure got too drunk on Monday night and didn't wake up in time and Fels just never responded to my text so I went out alone. I was surprised when I got there just after 10:00 and saw a line out the door. I had read the comments from the first day, as well as Fifth Feather's post that both mentioned lines but I thought it wouldn't be an issue on the second day since that's harder for most people to take off work (ahhh, the joys of newfound unemployment). Luckily, the line was just for autographs and anyone wanting to just watch hockey was allowed right in. There was no one at the autograph table either by the way - Isn't there something kind of odd about grown men standing in line to get an autograph from some young hockey player? It's got to be the equivalent to bringing a glove to a baseball game if you're over 14 years old...
Onto the hockey though...
The crowd was pretty packed as the drills had already started when I got in. I stood next to the ice and immediately realized that Chris Chelios standing right on the other side of the glass.
Cheli was there as just a coach, but he really looked like he wanted to be out there playing with the rest of the kids. He was skating in some of the drills and generally seemed happiest when taking part of the drill rather than just standing around giving advice. The many people I saw in the Chelios Team USA sweaters probably wouldn't mind to see him out there.
Chelios and Parise
The first group on the ice was actually Group 2, the one without either of the Blackhawks on the roster. The player I focused on for most of the time was the Blues' Erik Johnson. First off - he's huge. The roster has him listed at 6'4, 219 lbs. but word is he's added some weight to that frame and it shows. Other than his size however, he didn't seem too impressive. He seemed to be skating well after his hilarious knee injury (hilarious to Hawk fans that is - Game Time doesn't think it's too funny). Johnson is the type of player that's going to be better when playing a physical game though - so basic non-hitting drills aren't really going to let him shine. He does look as goofy in person as he does in pictures though.
The other Blue in Group 2 (rhymes!), David Backes, didn't stand out much except for the kids yelling "Mr. Backs! Mr. Backs! Give me your stick!" towards the end of drills.
Unfortunately I had a pretty bad spot for the first set of drills so I didn't get to notice much since I was constantly trying to dodge kids running around and trying to explain to people that Martin Brodeur and Jonathan Toews wouldn't be appearing in the camp due to their extreme Canadianess. The only things that are worth noting is that Zach Parise is sick and is going to be a huge addition to the team (and to the Devils).
Also, it's an insanely cool thing to stand up close to the ice and watch Mike Modano practice his slap and wrist shots... even if I was secretly looking around to see if his wife had come to the camp. Modano might not have a great chance at making the team that could be insanely young but it was great to see him up close.
For the second group I was able to get a much better spot higher up to see the ice. I obviously tried to focus mostly on the two Hawks, Kane and Byfuglien but couldn't help but notice others like T.J. Oshie and Bobby Ryan.
First up - It's true that Byfuglien does look like he's slimmed down some. Unfortunately, that didn't translate at all into improving his hands. During warm ups when most players just skate a few laps, Buff attempted to play with a puck before gently chipping the puck over the glass to the fans. Unfortunately, that gentle chip turned into a pretty fast rocket that came within inches of cracking an eight-year-old in the back of the head. Luckily no one was hurt and the boy's dad grabbed the puck and gave it to his son. During the rest of the drills Byfuglien's passes were constantly among the weakest and his shots never got much zip or accuracy. As Fifth Feather pointed out - Buff is clearly the guy who might not belong. However with Burke as GM, it wouldn't be too shocking to see him on the team. Like Johnson, Buff is a guy who does better when he's hitting people or when screening a goalie, neither of which are practiced in these camps.
Like others mentioned, T.J. Oshie is going to be a fantastic player. He's not much bigger than Kane but plays a pretty different game. He's a lot more tenacious in the skating and much more willing to fight for the puck. I'd say he'd be a great addition to the team. One thing is definite though, he's going to be annoying the hell out of all of us for years. Prepare to watch one of your new least favorite players, you know, the kind you secretly wish was on your team (or at least not in your division).
Finally, Kane didn't seem to play like he was too distracted with all the other troubles. He had a few nice wrist shots, his passes were all crisp and seemed pretty comfortable on the ice. That's even with most people wearing their 88 jersey and screaming and cheering every time he either touched the puck or lined up for a drill close to the crowd.
Anyone else go to Day 2 and have any other thoughts... Other than how funny this sign might be now?