WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Usually for fans and media, Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington is one of the coldest and most dreaded rinks to take in a hockey practice with the puck scribes cramming inside the tight, warm confines of the mini-media workroom perched above the rink. But on the first day of the Bruins fourth annual development camp Tuesday morning, everyone, including the team’s top prospects couldn’t get enough of the cold air in what is affectionately known as the “Ice Box.”
Unfortunately for the players, they were stuck inside the training room and outside as well, as the temperature hit the century mark on a sizzling, muggy day in Wilmington.
“I think I lost all the weight I put on in the past few weeks at all the draft and all the other functions I’ve been to,” 2010 second overall pick Tyler Seguin joked about the 100-degree plus weather in the greater Boston area.
But figuratively speaking, the Bruins are hoping there won’t be any heat on Seguin or any of the other prospects attending camp this week. This camp is about familiarizing the youngsters with the organizational philosophies on and off the ice as well as getting them acclimated to the physical demands of NHL hockey. They can also become familiar with their possible future teammates.
"They're going to learn about the Boston Bruins,” said Assistant GM Don Sweeney who has run the camp the last three summers. “They're going to learn about themselves. We're going to learn about them. They're going to learn about each other."
How the prospects perform between now and Saturday, when the camp concludes won’t necessarily determine whether each player gets invited to training camp in September or ever makes the club. But the camp is a chance to make a good first impression, that as Bruins winger Milan Lucic proved prior to the 2007-08 season, can help earn you a spot on the roster or at least get an invite to training camp.
“It’s a place to make an impression for everybody,” said Sweeney. “I did tell that to the kids last night. You’re not making our hockey club and playing for Claude (Julien) this week. We have had players who had done that, but it’s really about getting an understanding of what the coaches are going to expect of them to play at the NHL level.
In a perfect world they’re all going to wear a Bruins uniform. Is that reality? Probably not, which they all should understand, how difficult it is to get to that level. But they all have a chance, and that’s really all it takes.”
But while there’s that reality that not every one of these NHL hopefuls will make the show, this camp can’t hurt them and you just never know. By experiencing the development camp, prospects can know what to expect, ease their nerves and focus on showing why they belong. Sweeney alluded to goaltending prospect Matt Dalton who is here for the second time.
“I had a nice conversation with Matt Dalton, who was here last year and his roommate was nervous going in and just been drafted,” Sweeney said. “Not knowing any names and such and Matt was saying how much better he felt leaving here and going into training camp. That’s the object really; for these guys to have a clear indication of where they’re at going into training camp or if they’re going back to college. We’ve had guys that have arrived here at our development camp and then made the club and each and everyone one of them should know that.”
James Murphy has covered the Bruins and the NHL for the last eight seasons. He has written for NHL.com, NESN.com, Insidehockey.com and Le Hockey Magazine. Murphy also authors a blog, Drop Puck Murphy.