Day 1 Training Camp Notes

    1959

    The Maple Leafs began on-ice workouts today at their new practice facility, the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence.

    I’ve been given credentials and was on site for the first day and will be attending all three days of on ice practice.

    The following are a series of notes from Day 1 …


    I actually broke down and started a twitter account and can be followed at @KatsHockey. I’ll be tweeting throughout the next two days of camp.

    Drills began at 10:00 am sharp, and all players were split into three teams:

    Team Armstrong:
    Luke Schenn, Wayne Primeau, Francois Beauchemin, Colton Orr, Vesa Toskala, Nik Kulemin, Stefano Giliati, Mikhail Grabovski, Richard Greenop, Jesse Blacker, Brandon Manning, Jeff Finger, Jamal Mayers, Alex Ponikarovsky, Alex Foster, Carl Gunnarson, Dale Mitchell, Alex Berry, Todd Perry, Jamie Devane, Andrew Engelage

    Team Kennedy:
    Mike Komisarek, Matt Stajan, Ben Ondrus, Phil Oreskovic, Viktor Stalberg, Ryan Hamilton, Greg Scott, Andre Deveaux, Brennan Evans, Beau Erickson, John Kurtz, Niklas Hagman, Tomas Kaberle, Tim Brent, Nazem Kadri, Darryl Boyce, Jonas Gustavsson, Jason Blake, Josh Engel, Barron Smith, Simon Lacroix

    Team Sittler:
    Garnet Exelby, Jiri Tlusty, Christian Hanson, Mike Van Ryn, Jason Allison, Jay Rosehill, Tyler Bozak, Rickard Wallin, Mikhail Stefanovich, Joe Ryan, Ian White, Lee Stempniak, Jonas Frogren, Joey MasDonald, James Reimer, John Mitchell, Kyle Rogers, Robert Slaney, Juraj Mikus, Joel Champagne

    The schedule consisted of practice for Teams Armstrong and Sittler from 10 AM to 10:45, with a scrimmage between the team from 11 AM to 12:30 PM. Team B practiced from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM.

    On Monday, Team Kennedy and Armstrong will do the practice/scrimmage in the morning with Team Sittler with the afternoon practice.

    On Tuesday, Team Kennedy and Sittler practice/scrimmage in the morning with Team Armstrong with the afternoon practice.

    These are notes from the practice/scrimmage, but I couldn’t stay for the afternoon session. I will be attending both next days as well.

    Training Camp Notes:

    This was a little different approach from last season, where there was a focus on drills and teaching a new technique. The team concept works quite nicely.

    Prior to practice, the goaltenders were out working on butterfly and recovery fundamentals. Most curous to see was the way Vesa Toskala responded to the drills after hip surgery.

    Practice started with a warm-up skate, most of the crew handling pucks .. Wilson ordered a skate (counter clockwise) and the pace quickened .. warm up was altered with skaters moving forwards in the zone, and backwards through the neutral zone .. another whistle and the direction changed to clockwise.

    After the skate the team stretched at center and then split into three positions in one end of the ice .. wingers received a pass and were sent off, while the passer took off and received a pass, skated the length of the ice for a shot on goal .. breakouts starting from behind the goal are next before a more complex drill where a puck is given to a defenseman inside the defensive blueline while pressured by a three-man forward unit – dman gets it out to Eakins at center who deflects it to another set of defensemen at the other blueline while forwards curl in transition with the defensive pair for a 3-on-2 against the original defensive pairing.

    A big skate after the drills with in close drills next .. puck starts in a corner with a forward line battling a defensive pairing and one forward to score on the goalie .. they spent 15 minutes on this drill.

    Next drill focused on a hard forecheck and the audio was just as good as the drill .. Wilson had two forwards driving a defense pairing who controlled the puck, and was yelling at the team after a few lackluster efforts to go hard, don’t be lazy (hard emphasis on this point as he repeated it later) and don’t be afraid of making mistakes – attack at full speed and make sure to get a shot on goal at end of drill .. it seems like Wilson wants a hard forecheck at the opposition blueline and using upgraded defense to make a quick transition without giving up too much, if any, of the defensive zone .. a breakout with a puck from the corner with a 3-on-2 the other way ends drills .. team skates and then Wilson yells to get some water .. stretches and then a scrimmage.

    Some lines from both teams:

    Kennedy:
    Orr-Primeau-Mayers
    Ponikarovsky-Grabovski-Kulemin
    D. Mitchell-Giliati-Berry
    Foster-Greenop

    Beauchemin-Schenn
    Perry-Blacker
    Gunnarson-Finger

    Notes:
    Jesse Blacker made less offensive forays as the scrimmage progressed, easing into a defensive stance and more responsible brand of defense than in the Rookie Tournament .. Francois Beauchemin looked great in transition, and protecting the puck during a dump in, poised and economical in movements .. Colton Orr didn’t disappoint with the physical game, and also looked defensively responsible coming back hard and deep .. Nik Kulemin stands too low in the zone on defensive zone coverage as a winger and has to close the gap between himself and the point man; there’s injury risk scrambling into position and increasing risk of pucks from the point hitting in awkward positions .. he also has to keep his stick on the ice and not at waist level in the zone .. Vesa Toskala made some excellent kick saves, stretching out, had no issues with the butterfly and recovering from his knees, with acrobatic second efforts during scrimmage .. there was a good pairing in Grabovski and Ponikarovsky, and with ‘Grabo’ and Kulemin only not to the same extent .. Gunnarson was quietly having a good scrimmage, taking the body and generally keeping good positioning .. honorable mentions to the Orr-Primeau-Mayers line, and the Schenn/Beauchemin pairing.

    Sittler:
    J. Mitchell-Wallin-Stempniak
    Hanson-Bozak-Tlusty
    Slaney-Allison-Stefanovich
    Rosehill-Champagne-Rogers

    Frogren-Mikus
    White-Exelby
    Ryan-

    Notes:
    Fresh off a successful Rookie tournament, Tyler Bozak played wing and reminds me of the type of defensive game employed by Zetterberg, but misses the high end offensive talent, so I’ve begun calling him Zetterberg ‘lite’ .. unfortunately, Jason Allison still looks slow and lumbering on the ice, and despite being in on the play, tried to do too much without moving his feet, and stickhandling while standing still .. his strength and puck protection skills are top notch, but not suited for today’s NHL game .. even his PP contributions wouldn’t work with such a stationary game, if he has any hope of making the club, someone will have to point this out to him .. Dale Mitchell welcomed Garnet Exelby to Toronto by tattooing his face to Exelby’s shoulder pad in the neutral zone; welcome to the bigs, kid .. Exelby is aggressive and visible on the defense with a good knack for getting pucks by forecheckers .. Mikhail Stefanovich continued the listless immobile game from the rookie tournament and hasn’t looked hungry .. he’s the first to get off on a shift change .. misses a fire, stops moving his feet, lags the play and doesn’t work hard enough on becoming an outlet for passes, skates himself into corners and operates on the perimeter .. despite offensive sniping ability, until he gets more involved, keeps his feet activated and makes better efforts to get to the net, the bloom may already be off the rose .. he should follow the hustle of Tlusty who works hard to get to the front of the net and was the recipient of a beautiful return pass from Bozak on a give-and-go to score a goal .. he lacks some defensive flair and plays a little low like Kulemin in the zone, and seemed to be outmuscled at times, especially along the boards .. a nice surprise was to see Stempniak become more involved than he was last season, and seems to be playing with a shorter stick as well, which should help his stickhandling – (teased with some inside/outside moves twice and succeeded once, oddly enough, getting by at higher speed) .. J. Mitchell plays with his mouthguard by chewing on it instead of keeping it secure in his mouth similar to Chicago’s Patrick Kane .. Rickard Wallin was smooth and flowed into the game well, but could use his size and strength more often.

    Stay tuned …

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