So today marked the beginning of the Columbus Cottonmouths' 2009-2010 training camp. Officially we opened camp yesterday with player physicals, but today was the first day on the ice, and that's what really counts in my book. It was a bit of a scramble to get the guys ready and get them out on the ice (it always is, really), but all things considered the morning went pretty smoothly. The players were stopped on their way to the ice, just long enough to pose for their program photos. We began practice on time, more or less, and skated for just shy of two hours. Then the players headed off for a quick dry-land circuit before showering and heading off to a team lunch.
The pace was pretty good for the first day of camp. I was impressed by the fitness level of the players. Everybody came to camp ready to go, which is a good sign. That means less attention will need to be paid to conditioning, allowing for more time to practice systems. There isn't much time to work on much of anything. We have 4 days on the ice, then our first preseason game comes on Friday, followed by a trip to Huntsville for a second preseason tilt. After that we'll have 3 more days on the ice to prepare for our home opener the following Friday. So that means Jerome only has 7 total days to work on conditioning and teaching the new guys the system. That's not a lot of time. Luckily, we have a pretty good core of experienced players to help drill the Cottonmouths' system into the newcomers. In the meantime, Jerome will have a few tough decisions to make on some of these players. We opened camp with 20 players on the ice today, with 2 or 3 more to join us later. One goalie is still in camp with the South Carolina Stingrays, and a couple more players may or may not be on their way to join us. That would leave Jerome with 4 or 5 cuts to make, assuming nobody else pops up on his radar between now and opening night (which is a distinct possibility). I know some teams have 30 or more players in camp, which means competition for jobs (which can be a good thing), but Jerome has a pretty good idea who his team will be comprised of (give or take a couple of tweaks). I'm confident that he will put together a good team.
But then...that's just me.