ST. LOUIS (Hockey StL) -- These next several days are going to be more critical for the Blues than they’ll ever know. One day they’re in for an informal skate, the next it’s training camp and the next it’s the season.
Not a lot of time, eh?
I’ve asked several players over these last few days at the Mills how they can possibly get themselves ready, and I’m mean really ready, for a season with just a handful of organized practices. They all say it’s possible. The guys point to the fact there’s not a lot of turnover and they don’t have to go through the “get to know you” phase.
Other factors at play here are how a few of the Blues players (Alex Steen for instance) went overseas during the lockout and are not simply coming off of a long offseason. They’ve been playing hockey for a while.
Even with all of those arguments, however, it still seems highly unlikely to me that these guys can practice for a few days together and all of a sudden be in midseason form a week later. Or at least be as in tune as they would normally be following a regular offseason, a regular training camp and a regular exhibition schedule.
Timing takes, duh, time. That’s why they call it timing. If it happened over a couple day span it would be called something else. T.J. Oshie told me that there is simply no substitute for game action. You cannot simulate, no matter how hard you try, a real live game.
And with that comes the nuances of what these players need to prepare for a season.
Now, to be fair, the Blues aren’t exactly the only team facing this challenge. Every other NHL team is, too. So it’s not like they’ve got this huge disadvantage.
This is why I believe the Note can actually come out ahead with regards to the fast turnaround. There are experienced coaches. And then there’s Ken Hitchcock. He’s about as in tune with this sport and what needs to be done as anyone in the game.
That’s what 16 seasons and more than 1100 games coached will do for you.
And he’s done a remarkable job of talking to teams in the NBA about how they approached a short training camp before a regular season due to their lockout.
If someone’s going to be prepared for this, it’s Ken Hitchcock.