How teams and players approach the training camp

With the Junior Championships winding down on Monday and the annual Charity golf tournaments taking place on Tuesday, we’ve come out of the slump and officially entered preseason.

With games set for Wednesday, some teams begin their journey toward the Stanley Cup Parade, while others begin the “Battle of Beddard” and the first overall pick in next year’s draft.

The Colorado Avalanche looks set to compete for back-to-back championships.

Arizona Coyote appears well positioned to be the top runners, along with Chicago, to land in the first overall pick.

The Ottawa senators are excited to kick off the season with a revamped roster and have sights of the playoffs taking place next spring.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are all talking about their Stanley Cup rivalry…again!

The Edmonton Oilers team is off on a positive track in the spring and they look forward to building the experience.

The Calgary Flames have had one of the busiest summers of any NHL team in recent memory and seem ready to compete.

We’ll hear a lot of talk about new beginnings, or getting off on the right foot. But how do teams across the NHL set up their training camps?

How do players, coaches and management strategize how best to prepare for the regular puck season in October?

Here are some ideas after speaking with some of the coaches, players, and CEOs of hockey operations:

all the time

Some readers may already be aware of this, but NHL teams only have three hours of daily access to players in training camp.

They are basically logging in and out.

They coordinate the difference between their bodies out of the snow (fitness and video) and the ice (skates) with the three-hour window in mind.

hockey operations

There was a time when most NHL teams had their scout crew in town to monitor training camp and hold pre-season meetings.

But with so few jobs being contested, mostly due to the salary cap, teams generally don’t get their group together at the NHL main camp anymore. There are some exceptions. Some GMs like to have their professional staff come to camp to present their roster and meet to discuss potential bouts from elsewhere in the league.


Unrestricted free agents looking to secure a contract sign a professional trial agreement. Some of the interesting names on PTO’s about the league this year include: Sonny Milano in Calgary and Zach Aston-Reese in Toronto.

Coaches set the tone

The NHL is a fast league. It’s a track meet. All teams are trying to play fast.

With this in mind, a former coach for a long time described his strategy:

“The goal for me and my staff is to set the tone we want to play as a group right away. It sounds simple, but I want our teams to feel that they can play freely in the attack zone. Let their instincts and skills take over. I don’t want them to be automated or predictable.

“On the contrary, the defensive zone and how we will defend is an area that I will start working on from the first day of camp. Are we going to play the Verses Man in our zone? And will we press in the neutral zone (2/1/2 or 1/4)?”. What does it look like? Our Defensive Zone Combat Game Do we need to take part in some 3v3 combat drills to raise our level of commitment?

“I want to set our expectations as a training device, but I also don’t want to slow down our practices. It’s important, in my opinion, that you train quickly and quickly. You don’t spend too much time on the board. We rarely have to stop completely on a training that can only last 35-40 minutes.”

“Some of our special team strategies will be covered in the video sessions. We will dedicate before training time to our strength play.

“A goalkeeper coach in general likes to work with his buddies before training too.

“The players are reporting to the camp in exceptional form in the NHL today. We set the standards for off-season fitness. I can’t remember a single player who has gone out of shape in recent years. In fact, these guys have reached the stage where we have to monitor and make sure they don’t They push their bodies to the extreme. We need them for an entire season.”


A former NHL player who has played over 1,000 league games and is now working on player development has described his aptitude over the years as follows:

“As a player, a rookie in particular, I was very nervous about the test! I wanted to be the hardest player working hard every day. I found a way to stand out. I was always talkative and tried to show leadership qualities.

“Once I was a well-established veteran, I was still nervous about fitness tests! I used my preseason to reclaim my time. I built my game. It only takes three or four matches to do that. I also made a point to include all beginners in activities Our team (lunches, dinners, etc.).

“In my current role I see things from a different perspective. I use the camp as an assessment to see where our prospects are in their development. It is a great opportunity to teach when a child looks out of place or puts the cart before the horse.

“I want to see how kids react to the pressures of turning professional and their first camp. Who can handle the nerves. Who is trying to do too much.”

“The most important thing from a player development perspective is the message we send to potential customers when they are left out. How is it carried over. Where does it go next and what are our expectations for areas for improvement.”


Former NHL goalkeeper Scott Clemencen heads up the New Jersey Devils goalkeeping development and scouting team:

“When I was a young player, my goal was to work every day and make an impression on everyone. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could play in the league.

“As I matured into an NHL veteran, I approached camp differently. I wanted to make sure my game was tidy through strong practice habits and display games. I didn’t need to impress anyone. I just needed to prove that I was an NHL league goalkeeper. Through my habits, my settings, my performance in the game.I wanted my coaches to know they could trust me to stop 25 out of 27 every night for example.

“My biggest message to our prospects is to be prepared. When you are young, you better come to camp in good shape and ready to prove to everyone what you can do every day.”


After their first skis on Thursday, the teams will begin the exhibition stage of their training camps this weekend.

NHL rules for state show game teams must wear a minimum of eight veteran players.

Don’t be surprised to see little guns playing as if their hair was on fire, trying to stand out from the crowd, while veteran players strategize more and get their mind and body running at NHL pace again.

Realizing that some fans are very critical of what they see early in the pre-season, it’s important to remember to zoom out. Perspective is the key!