POSTED ON Monday, 11.07.2011 / 3:28 PM

After all the hype and anticipation, we finally tackled the infamous Grouse Grind. I don’t think it was as bad as it sounds – I thought that it was just a really good workout. Perhaps it was more of a stroll than a “grind”? I would absolutely do it again though.

We did the hike in teams of five or six guys – our team captain was Peter Andersson (the Grind ‘vet’ of the group), Cody Kunyk, Marc Zanetti, Ponthus Westerholm, and Henrik Tommernes. Our time was clocked after the last guy reached the top and touched the timer. We ended up finishing in about 49 minutes. I think Taylor Matson’s group finished first with just over 45 minutes. Everyone’s time were pretty tight though.

The Canucks have a tradition at camp to give out jerseys to all the guys at camp and they did that today too, which was such a nice touch and good way to finish off the week. I have two blue jerseys at home already with the orca on it so I get to add another one to the collection but this one is a stick and rink so that’ll be a nice keepsake for my mom, I’m sure.

The week has been a blast and I’m so glad to have met such a great group of guys. It was a good week to work on skills a bit and learn lots of new things as well. This is by far the best development camp I’ve been to. Besides the hockey part, the activities and all the presentations have been so well done.

My favourite activity of the week was probably the chip and putt at Stanley Park yesterday. We all had a really good time there. We were split up into groups of four or five – I played with Sebastian Erixon, Cody Kunyk, and Mike (one of the scouts). Sebastian is an unbelievable golfer. I guess he golfs a lot back home so he did really well. I almost had a hole in one – I put it about a foot from the hole and it rolled right by it – oh well, maybe next time.

Because Zanetti and I knew each other before camp, there was maybe a small competition on Twitter when my follower count started to increase. He was quite a ways ahead of me to start the week but I’m definitely catching up. I started the week at around 400 and now I’m at 818. The fan support has been incredible. He’s pushing 900 so I’m almost there. By the time I go home, the goal is to try to get 1000, can I do it?

Vancouver’s the only place I’ve been on the West coast so I’m really look forward to visiting Penticton for the tournament in September. I’ve been in the Traverse City tournament the last two years so I’m familiar with the format. I’m definitely excited to get going with that. I think it’s good to be able to get all the top prospects together. They’re a lot of fun and it’s a good preparation for going into main camp. You’re on the ice everyday during the summer but unless you play games, you’re not going to get in the same form.

For all the fans who haven’t seen me play, I’m excited to show them what I have. I’m a pretty big boy so I’m going to be bringing a pretty big physical presence to the ice - be a little pest out there and hopefully score some goals.

As far as the rest of the summer goes, I’m staying out here for a while longer to work with the trainers here. Hopefully, I’m going to be turning into a machine for the next few weeks. Then, I go home for two weeks and just continue to train and make my last rounds to see friends and family before heading back here. This is far enough to be considered a vacation so I don’t really have much else planned right now.

It’s been an honour to be blogging for the Canucks development camp. It’s been a lot of fun and I hope the fans enjoyed it as much as I did and since it’s over, I’ll have to keep the Twitter account going so fans can still follow me and see what I have to say.

I want to say thank you to all my friends and family back home who have been reading too.

And finally, I have to give a mention out to Mr. Stan Smyl. He said I better mention him in the blog so I have to give him a shout out and say thank you again for flying all the way out to Ontario to come see me play last winter. I’m so happy to be part of this organization.

Thank you everyone. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 10.07.2011 / 2:42 PM

It was the three on three tournament at UBC today and it was a battle out there. I was teamed up with Sebastian Erixon and Cody Kunyk. I think we did well – overall, we were 2-2 for the day so that’s not bad. We came out firing and won our first game 1-0 and won our last game but we had some unlucky bounces in games two (against Westerholm Twins and Marc Zanetti) and three (against Niklas Jensen, Alexandre Grenier, and Joey LaLeggia) so we lost in those two. I did score a couple times so I’m pretty happy with that too.

I think our team came together really quickly considering we just got put into teams this morning. We moved the puck pretty well but if it wasn't for the unlucky bounces, I think the result could’ve been a bit different. The tournament was a lot of fun and it’s good to see everyone in their element and compete.

Zanetti’s team was looking really good and they were moving the puck really well. I’m not sure how they didn’t make it to the finals. Zanetti was a character out there though – you knew every time he’d score or his team did something well because he was celebrating and screaming every time.

On our side, Team Jensen advanced to the final gam but I didn’t get to see any of the teams on the other side but apparently Friesen’s team went 4-0 in the round robin so they were the final team on that side. I guess they didn’t play their A-game in the finals though because they didn’t get a goal and Team Jensen took the tournament. It was pretty fast paced and I was impressed with the game.

Fans are always curious about our jersey numbers but unfortunately, at camp, there isn’t really a story to the numbers here. We don’t pick our numbers here – we walked in Tuesday and pretty much just had that number waiting for us. I’m 49 at camp this week.

If I did get to choose my own number, it would be 25. I originally chose 25 because my cousin, Danny Harrison wore that number when he was playing. I remember I used to watch him play when I was a kid so that just stuck with me.

We’re off to do another team-bonding activity today and visit the local pitch and putt. I don’t have the opportunity get out and golf often but I think I’m pretty good. I would have to say that my mini-putt skills are pretty stellar. We’ll see what the outcome ends up being later this afternoon.

Luckily, today is a pretty relaxed day because we have to prepare for the Famous Grouse Grind tomorrow. Everyone’s been pretty quiet about it and I don’t think anyone’s excited to do it but I actually am kind of excited for it.

We already know we’re going up in teams and who are teammates are but there hasn’t been any strategy or planning into it. I’m sure we’ll have a brief meeting tomorrow about it. Every group is sent up with a mini Stanley Cup and as you pass groups, you’re supposed to steal those so I think the goal is to collect the most Cups.

I’m thinking if we stay at a steady pace, we’ll be okay. If someone is coming up behind us, we can pass the Cup up to the fastest guy and get a sprint going to protect the Cup so the group behind can’t catch up. But that’s just me – we’ll see what happens.

Wish me luck.

Got any questions? I would love to hear from you. Send me your thoughts.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 09.07.2011 / 4:20 PM

Everyone’s favourite day: fitness testing today at UBC. In preparation for the tests, all the guys made ourselves an ice bath to get rid of the lactic acid build up in our legs to keep them fresh for today. Did it work? Absolutely not. The testing is going to burn no matter what.

I’ve done the Wingate once before but not the VO2 so I kind of knew the tests from today. The VO2 is just a lot longer than the Wingate. It’s hard because you have to go for a long period of time and you just keep going until they tell you to stop. The wingate is just 45 seconds so it’s tough but it’s 45 seconds and you’re done.

I think I went for 12 minutes on the VO2 and 500 watts, which is two from the top. I think they were saying the average is about 8-12 minutes so I did not bad, if I do say so myself. Neither are fun and there is not one that’s better than the other – trust me, I won’t be going out and doing this for fun anytime soon.

They’re both tough workouts but I’m glad it’s over with.

In addition to the ice bath, last night was pretty mellow, we all knew it had to be a super chill night because of the testing today. We watched Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune again. I nailed the bonus round, which was “Passing with flying colors” – we were all guessing all sorts of things for that first word but in the end, I was the one who got it – I was pretty excited about that. I think we were all doing very well on Jeopardy so I’d say that was a tie.

After a lot of hours and five days with these guys, I think I’ve gotten to know the guys a little bit now. Here’s a quick survey of what I’ve gathered…

We’ve got a really good group of guys here with a really good sense of humour. There are lots of jokes all the time around here. I’ve mainly been hanging out with Alex Friesen and Marc Zanetti so they’re two pretty funny guys - and you can throw Jeremy Price in there too. If I had to give it to one guy, I’d say it would be Friesen.

The smartest guy “award” would go to Jeremy Price – but mostly because he goes to college so I would hope he’s the smartest.

If I had to choose someone to go on the show, “The Amazing Race”, it would be a tough call but again I’m going to have to go with my boy, Alex Friesen. I played in Niagara with him this year so I feel like the friendship and the chemistry we have there would help out a lot in a circumstance like that. We lived right down the road from each other in Niagara so I’ve spent a lot of time with him there so I don’t think I would get sick of him. I’m a great navigator, I always know where I’m going so there would be no fear in getting lost.

While I’m on the reality TV route, if someone here were to go on Survivor, I think the most likely to win would probably be me. I’ve camped pretty much every summer my whole life so I think I’d do pretty well with that. I can start a fire no problem and I think my history and knowledge would help me out a lot.

We’ve got a three-on-three tournament tomorrow so that should be fun.

Got any questions? I would love to hear from you. Send me your thoughts.

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POSTED ON Friday, 08.07.2011 / 4:14 PM

I left off yesterday with dragon boating so I’ll start today with the dragon boat update. There was a bit of controversy because both boats think they won. I was in the red boat and we were told by the motor boat following us that the red boat won. For some reason, the yellow boat seems to have it in their heads that they won. I mean, I’ll admit, it was a close race but everyone knows red won.

It’s a great shoulder workout especially because you’re only on the one side the whole time. The left shoulder got a little burn when you’ve got it going for a minute straight. It’s something I’ve never tried before but I would absolutely do it again. It’s a great team sport because you can’t really succeed individually on that, much like hockey.

Good news is nobody tipped but it was a little rocky at times when people moved but generally, it was a pretty sturdy boat. It was a little cold to start because it started raining but once we got paddling it wasn’t too bad.

We had Commanding Officer, Bradley Peats of the HMCS Vancouver come in to talk to us as they are set to go overseas soon. It was fantastic to hear from them. Bless those guys’ hearts, who are going over there to help people in need and can’t thank them enough for what they do for this country and to help others as well. My grandfather was in World War 2 over in Germany so for me, that’s a good experience and to meet someone like that. I’ve never met anyone in the navy so it was interesting to hear their side of the story. I wish them the best of luck to them going overseas.

After lunch, we had a food and nutrition session with a nutritionist and a chef. The chef made us some pasta – something simple that we can make ourselves. It was pretty basic, just whole wheat pasta, chopped up tomatoes, oregano, basil, and chicken breast. One of things I took away from that session is to use lots of herbs in your cooking to bring it up a notch. The pasta was phenomenal.

I’m getting better in the kitchen – I’m usually a guy that just likes to eat so there’s still room for improvement there. But I know that in the near future I’m going to be on my own and won’t have anybody cooking my meals so I’ll have to get into it more. I’ve been trying to start getting into it more this summer. During the season, usually all my meals are cooked for me. The odd night that the billets aren’t home, I have to whip up something myself and even in the summer time, if mama bear’s not home, I’ve got to fend for myself.

My specialty dish is actually something my mom and I came up with together. Marinate chicken breast in sun-dried tomato dressing and then fry it up in the skillet with some rice and asparagus. That’s my go-to meal.

With yoga becoming more common in hockey training now, today was actually my first time doing yoga. It was really good and relaxing – maybe too much because I think I almost fell asleep. Some positions you had to keep a little more balance but great first experience. Marc Zanetti was trying to knock me over a couple of times but I’m kind of a brick wall.

I got a fan question from Lynsey: After doing all the drills with Ryan, what is your favourite and least favourite drill that he makes you do?

My least favourite is probably the Mohawk turn, which is when you’re going backwards and pivot to one side and you open your hips up and continue on your stride. It’s mainly for defenceman and that was pretty tough when Ryan first introduced it to me but I definitely feel a lot more comfortable doing it now.

I don’t think I have a favourite one – maybe any skating drill that has to do with shooting the puck. And one that we worked on a lot was tight turns which was a big help for me so that maybe that would be my favourite.

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback and a couple tweets from people about the blog and I appreciate all the feedback and questions – keep it coming. The phone’s still buzzing about it and I love it.

Got any questions? I would love to hear from you. Send me your thoughts.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 07.07.2011 / 2:50 PM

I think I’m starting to get the hang of this blogging thing – my friends have even been commenting on the "Archiblog" and I’ve had no bad feedback yet so that’s always a good thing.

Steven Anthony was last year’s blogger and I keep being told that he did a really good job but I think I can top him. He hasn’t said anything to me yet but it’s probably because I’m bigger than him and he’s a little intimidated.

While I’m on the topic of feedback, I’ve been getting lots of questions about my Twitter account, which is real. A couple of guys on my junior club last year started on Twitter and I guess I just followed suit. I wasn’t really into it much at first but I think I started to tweet more in the past little bit and it’s been fun.

I like being able keep the fans up to date on what’s going on and a little behind the scenes action as well. My following count has been booming in the last couple of days – it’s kind of amazing to see it grow the way it has. I follow VanCanucks but I’ve been waiting for a shout out – you’d think being the blogger would get me some love, we’ll see.

Those following me on Twitter may have noticed my new distraction – Jeopardy. Some of the guys and I have been watching it this week. It’s kids week so the questions are quite a bit easier but it’s fun because we know mostly all the answers. I think Alex Friesen has been performing the best so far and Jeremy Price is definitely slacking (being the college kid, we all thought he’d be the best).

Adam Polasek’s my roommate this week but actually he’s been my roommate when we were in Manitoba and when we were here a couple months ago as well. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well through that and he’s been a great roommate. I think he’s still a little jet-lagged from the plane ride over so he’s a little quiet around the rink but in the room, you can’t him to keep his mouth shut sometimes.

Today, we met with the media. Vancouver’s media is a little different than what I’m used to considering the largest scrum I’ve been in consisted of three people. I saw Niklas Jensen’s scrum today and it was very crowded. I’ve got no problem with the media, in fact, I really enjoy it and I don’t find them intimidating at all. I think that as long as you get my good side – the left side – I’m okay with anything.

After that, we are going outside to do some dragon boating. I know it’s a big canoe boat kind of thing but that’s about it. Other than that, it’ll be a whole new experience for me. I kayak quite a bit in the summer at my billet’s cottage up in Parry Sound so I’m very comfortable on the water. I’m not going to give any names but I’ve been called the next Michael Phelps – or something like that.

I’ll go give that try and let you all know how that went tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Got any questions? I would love to hear from you. Send me your thoughts.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 06.07.2011 / 4:52 PM

It was good to get day one out of the way – both camp and my blog – and jump right into today feeling a lot more comfortable.

Yesterday was a pretty short day with just some on-ice skating analysis with Ryan Lounsbury, who I’ve actually been working with for the past two months so I’m very familiar with what he does and who he is. I’ve noticed a difference in my skating since I’ve started working with him towards the end of the season and I felt really good out there in the last couple of days too.

We were kind of joking out there and he said to me that my skating looked good out there and I said, “I hope so because I’ve been doing this twice a week for the past two months so if I’m not, something’s wrong”. I also told him that I was going to blame it on him if the coaches said something to me – just joking, mostly.

We did a workout session this morning, which consisted of some very intense bike rides. Roger is very serious about what we’re doing here this week and he isn’t taking it easy on us at all just because it’s summer. You’ve got to be in shape to play in the NHL and the gym’s a huge aspect of that so it is a good thing that he pushes us.

After that, we had lunch with the staff and it definitely opened my eyes to see how many people are working for the organization full-time so kudos to them for all the work they put in. The food was good and I met a couple of people from the HR department. We talked briefly about what goes on in their department and apparently, right now is their busy time, where they’re looking to recruit new staff during the offseason to prepare for the next season.

To stray away from camp and hockey a bit, I talked about Vancouver and how great of a city it was yesterday, I want to give some love back to my hometown of Newmarket in Ontario. I think it’s starting to grow into a small city now instead of the small town that everyone else sees it as. I’ve grown up there my whole life and it’s a very friendly town – but quiet. It’s a nice place to call home but to be honest, there’s not a ton happening there.

We have a fair there once a year and the circus also stops by but that might be it – nothing too crazy, just a perfect place to call home. Jim Carrey and John Candy were from there so maybe it’s a funny guy town. As for me, I think I can be a little comedic once you get me going but not sure I can compare myself to guys of that caliber.

Got any questions? I would love to hear from you. Send me your thoughts.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.07.2011 / 3:58 PM

I’ve been approached by Canucks.com to be the official camp blogger for the week but honestly, I don’t think I entirely know what that will entail but I’ll find out quickly. I’ve never done this before so I’ll appreciate the help along the way but I’m sure it’s going to fun regardless. I haven’t written much lately so hopefully I can keep the fans interested for the week and I’m open to questions and suggestions too.

I got in yesterday afternoon with Steve Janes and then we just walked around the city a little bit for the rest of the day. My first few visits to Vancouver have been cloudy so this is the first time that I’ve had a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather so we walked along the water and got to see the Olympic torch.

My first visit to Vancouver was back in April right after my junior season ended. It was during the playoffs so I got to see the Canucks during their run. Game 2 against Nashville was my first NHL playoff experience so that was fun. I’ve seen some Leafs games before but they haven’t made the playoffs in a few years so it was fun to see Vancouver in it for sure.

As a rookie to the Canucks camp, it’s nice to have a few familiar faces in Alex Friesen, Marc Zanetti, and Brandon Tanev. I played with Alex in Niagara and he hasn’t share too many insights to this camp but I’ve heard lots about the Grouse Grind, which is apparently a pure leg burner for 45 minutes. I’ve never done anything like that before and I’m ready to get at it. It’ll be a good experience.

I’ve been to two development camps before - one with Columbus and one with Detroit – but they’ve never done anything like the Grouse Grind so I’m very curious about what that’s about. These camps are always great to come in and get familiar with the organization and meet all the players. We’re here to get better and work on things so I’m sure it’ll be a fun week ahead of us.

It's time to get to work so I'll check in again tomorrow.

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