“All those doubters out there, we are going to make them eat their words.”
As Vancouver Canucks Training Camp opened up Wednesday at Rogers Arena, it was business as usual. Players conducted fitness testing, medical evaluations and media availability; a total of 36 players reported to camp and will be joined by the prospects continuing on from the Canucks Young Stars Classic Tournament.
Several players were present during media availability along with new head coach John Tortorella and general manager Mike Gillis.
The Canucks recently returned from a team fishing trip to Northern BC and Tortorella was pleased with the bonding session. "Everything about it worked out perfectly and hopefully we springboard off that into camp.” It’s a way for players to learn about each other off the ice and build some team chemistry on the ice.
Tortorella also wants to bring the combination of grind, bite and grittiness to the team. “It’s about creating an identity and developing a culture. Its not about brawling but the little things, protecting the puck, eating the puck on the wall when you can’t get it out, blocking shots, etc. And when you have a Sedin blocking a shot, watch what the bench does…it's ten feet tall.”
SEDINS READY TO ROLL
Daniel and Henrik Sedin are excited to be back and said the testing is great but the real test is yet to come. “You want to do good in the testing but its what you do on the ice that is going to matter. No one’s going to remember after the season how many bench presses you did,” said Daniel. A typical but candid answer from the savvy veteran who wants to be utilized on both ends of the ice. “We always wanted to kill penalties, block shots and defend…we are open to anything.”
Contract negotiations between Henrik and Daniel Sedin and the Canucks are set to begin on Thursday. Both twins want to finish their careers as a Canuck and are hopeful the extension will come before the start of the season, “It will be better for all of us [to sign during training camp]. Everyone knows we want to be here.”
All eyes were on Roberto Luongo as training camp got underway. He knows it’s a big year for him to reestablish himself as an elite goalie in the league but also eyeing a starting spot on Canada’s Olympic team.
“I just want to get back to work and just have to worry about playing hockey and have a great year,” Luongo said Wednesday. When asked about not being passionate about coming back, the 34-year-old netminder reminded the media its going to take time, “you have to understand, after what’s happened after two years, it’s a process, you have to feel it out and see how it goes. ”
Luongo was also asked about Tortorella’s potential crackdown on tweeting. His response, “I’m not on Twitter. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Forward Ryan Kesler finally feels healthy after being plagued with injury the last two seasons. He seems to have the fire in the eyes, like a raging bull. He said he is ready to prove people wrong, “all those doubters out there, we are going to make them eat their words.” When asked about the possibility of butting heads with coach Tortorella, Kesler responded, “Wow, we are already starting this are we?” He thinks the two are a good fit, “we both want to win and we both hate losing… there are going to be days if I play bad and he’s going to say something and I want that.”
Meanwhile, defensemen Kevin Bieksa was quick to say the 2012-2013 season was a disappointment. “Last year was straight up embarrassing.” Bieksa said the Canucks have a lot to prove to themselves and everybody else. In talking about the expectation of players, he said at times there was a lack of communication last year and expects that to change under Tortorella.
Tortorella has a reputation of playing young players and sticking with them if they are struggling. On that radar will be forward Zack Kassian, playing alongside the Sedins during training camp. A slimmer Kassian has worked hard this summer with his strength and conditioning coach, "I need to get more consistent…I come in more mature, and stronger, and better shape than last season. I'm going in with open eyes this season." When asked about his body-fat, Jason Garrison jokingly told Kassian to take his shirt off.
The Canucks also said that forward David Booth is still not cleared to take part in training camp. Tortorella said Booth is day-to-day and the team does not want to rush him back.
Thursday the players will report to UBC for on-ice testing. From Friday September 13th to Sunday, September 15th, players will be split into three on-ice groups and will conduct scrimmages followed by on-ice practices. Scrimmages begin at 9 a.m. followed by practice sessions by group at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Joining us for open scrimmages this week during Training Camp? Register here: http://ow.ly/oME9s
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