We couldn't have asked for anything more.
Hurricanes official training camp started on September 16th with physicals and the guys hit the ice for their first official practice on Saturday the 17th.We have informal skates starting in August commonly known as “Camp Brind’Amour” but that name seems to have a bunch of busybody fans in an uproar this year. “He’s a coach! We can’t risk any impropriety with the NHL!” Don’t get your knickers in a twist. It’s an unofficial name. Players know if you want to make the team you go to Camp Brindy unless you are Jeff Skinner and you are busy touring the Big Apple with your Pops, making friends with Henrik Lundqvist, eating tree bark (organic only!) and drinking unicorn tears prescribed by Gary Roberts. (All unicorns supplying tears must be free-range unicorns and antibiotic free).
Anyway, I have not been able to attend any of the weekday camp activities due to the fact that I am a cube dweller, but I was able to hit the RBC Center for the Red-White scrimmage this past Sunday the 18th. It is part of our “Caniac Carnival.” We haven't had a Red/White scrimmage since 2008 when coach Lavi was still in town. While it wasn't a sellout like the Blackhawks event I thought there was a decent turnout. Ok the event was free and there were no tickets so you can't really sell out. Details, details. We did fill one side of the lower bowl and they had to open up more seating. It’s progress. I’ll take it.
The carnival started at 9am with wristbands being given out for autograph sessions. I did not attend as the lines were said to start forming around 8am and mama needs her beauty sleep. Mama had to wake herself up with an alarm just to be ready to go at 10:30. It’s good I didn’t attend, as I would have started dribbling out of the corners of my mouth and shaking. I probably would have asked Chad LaRose something inappropriate like "How OLD do I look to you?" I did see pictures of the sessions and know that a ton of players were on hand with pens at the ready. If I list them all we could be here all day…Jussi Jokinen, Skinner, Jared and Eric Staal, Tim Gleason, Jamie McBain, Tomas Kaberle…you get the picture.
The game started at high noon and was run like a regular game with musical introductions and the anthem. Unfortunately I was too late to get seats down close to the glass to evaluate the skills
A lot of our "regulars" didn't really see much time on the ice during the game but Eric Staal stole the puck from Tuomo Ruutu and scored within the first minute. Staal was on Team Red and while everyone else cheered when he made the shot I damned near had a heart attack. Brian Boucher was in goal and we need him to be PERFECT this year. It took him a while to get his groove and it was unnerving to me. Cam Ward sat out the scrimmage with "upper body stiffness." So let's see it's September and Cam is already in pain. Oh and Chad LaRose and Patty Dwyer both got hurt Monday night in our pre-season game against the Sabres and sat out the scrimmage at Tuesday’s practice! Yay lower body injuries! They are supposed to be minor but who knows.
(l-r Jay “Blue Steel” Harrison, Staal1.0, Jokinen, Ponakorovsy, Kaberle)
Back to the scrimmage. There were lots of draft guys and players from our AHL Checkers in rotation i.e. guys that are trying make the squad, but they did play the vets some to please the fans. We had two Staals (Eric and Jared) and at least two Sutters in the mix (Brandon and Brett…maybe Brody…yes we have 3). There wasn't much of a showing by Jared Staal, affectionately known as "Tito" around these parts, although I noted he looked pretty scrappy in the first period (because I am a dork and took notes on my phone). I wasn’t able to get close enough to evaluate Tito on a more personal level.
(l to r -Dalpe, Tito, MJ, Joni Pitkanen)
Mike Murphy from the AHL Checkers saw some time in net for Team White. Mike has fantastic flow. He's a good guy and was the Checkers AHL man of the year last year! We also saw Checkers d-man Michal Jordan who is white, Czech and does not play basketball. I honestly only saw MJ with one big hit but apparently he potted the 2nd goal for Team Red. Brett Sutter knocked in the 3rd. (See why I was having a heart attack?) I also missed a goal by Skinner for Team White when I was scowling at a guy that didn’t understand not walking down the aisle when the puck is in play. For a person that took notes I sure missed a lot of stuff.
(l-r Boychuk, Murph, Marlie the Marlin, Terry)
Guys that stood out during the scrimmage to me were Riley Nash and Chris Terry from the Checkers. Nash scored two goals and Terry netted one. Zac Dalpe (who is the guy to beat for a spot on the NHL roster) scored as did Zach Boychuk. My boy Boychuk needs to step it up. He likes to chirp. I call him Chad 2.0. Blueliner Justin Faulk had a great game as well. He was all over the ice. Flow? Amazing.
I also noticed Ryan Murphy whom we picked up in the entry draft and just signed an entry-level deal with. He’s an 18-year-old former teammate of Skinny on the Kitchener Rangers. They have him paired up with 10’5” Bryan Allen who is showing him the ropes. The kid is a fast skater.
The final score of the scrimmage was 10-7 so yeah, that is why I haven’t listed every single goal. Also in net we saw Justin Peters aka Pete Dawg and John Muse formerly of Boston College who recently tweeted that he is getting sort of freaked out by Southern hospitality. Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it.
The scrimmage ended with a shootout including shootout artist extraordinaire Jussi “The Juice” Jokinen, Jeff Skinner, Brandon Sutter, Tuomo Ruutu and Tomas Kaberle. Yes. Really. There is a reason you don't put your blueliners in a shootout. I guess it was more of a dog and pony show to trot him out in front of the fans. Eventually I will stop accidentally calling him Frank. I had a good time at the game even if there wasn’t really any defense. It was just good to see the guys on the ice again.
Random asides: I didn’t get to see Tim Brent that much on the ice. I know he was there but there were so many AHL-ers to follow that I couldn’t keep up. I lost my roster and had to borrow one from a little boy! Jim Rutherford was wandering around outside the carnival. All of our “activities” are for kids. (See: family atmosphere yo.) If you don’t like inflatables don’t show up until game time. Alexei Ponikarovky is a big mother effer.