This was my second season of training camp festivities and I wasn’t sure what to expect this year. After a down Saturday, I wasn’t in the mood to attend, but I thought I ought to, if only because I had gone last year. I was running late, as normal, so I went straight to the Arena, just in time to see the very beginning of the 2nd game of the famous (infamous?) Blue Jackets owners tournament.
As soon as I entered the Arena, though, there was a noticeable frission of excitement in the air. The players may not have been playing “all out” but they were skating hard and not holding back. There were a couple of moments when I checked myself after seeing who was on the ice. Once when I thought, “hey, this guy looks like he is GOOD”, only to think a few seconds later, “oooooh, THAT’S Wisniewski!”. Yup, folks, the man is freaky good. And funny. Loved his “we’re no. 1!” sign at center ice after Team Wolfe won the Championship game.
I did another double take at Ryan Russell flying down the ice on a breakaway. He’s fast and not shy about crashing the net. I wondered why he hadn’t been called up by the Canadiens, but after talking with The Expert in All Things Russell, Dannie (known on Twitter as @frickendannie), I learned that RyRuss did not have such a great year last year, after his 2 previous good years. Maybe the folks at A Winning Habit have some ideas why RyRuss was in Hamilton so long?
I tried to watch some of the prospects who had a good tournament at Traverse City. Cam Atkinson is as advertised. Aaron Bogosian and Michael Chaput were aggressive and had good games. David Savard and Boone Jenner impressed. I have to get used to the speed of hockey again as I kept referring to my handy cheat sheet!
It was fantastic to see the players I’m familiar with on the ice. I caught myself following a certain player up and down the ice thinking “he’s so fluid, what an amazing skater” only to realize I was swooning over Rick Nash. Not surprisingly, R.J. Umberger played to win; Jared Boll checked Lukas Sedlak into the boards HARD; and KRuss showed us just why he was considered to be the D-man who would most thrive under Coach Arniel’s system by scoring a goal and adding an assist. Steve Mason looked pretty sharp and confident. Yes, I know this is pre-pre-season and just training camp, but it was good to see Mase looking good. Every professional athlete needs a full time coach! But more about that at another time.
My not-so-good mood disappeared within 2 minutes of being at the Arena and seeing the team on the ice. You had to smile at the “Let’s go, Jackets” cheer that went around the Ice Haus; after all, everyone on the ice is a Jacket! There’s nothing that sounds as good as skates on ice and a puck hitting a stick. Let’s drop the puck already!