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Training Camp Day 3

Claude Noel ran the morning practice for the White Team. Hitchcock was most likely preparing the Blue Team for this afternoons games against the Predators. The Blue Team practiced this morning on the main ice which is not open to the public. The White Team continued with many different drills that focused once again on skating, quick puck movement, passing and puck battles. I won't spend any time on the practice results or how the players did but I want to share an interesting experience from the practice.

I was sitting watching the practice and was focusing on certain bubble players and youngsters that I wanted to take a closer look at. A gentleman sitting next to me leaned over and asked me a question. He said, "Have you been to all of the practices the past couple of days?" I replied that indeed I had attended all of the practices and was quite impressed with how they had been going. Then he asked me a question that kind of took me a little by surprise. He said, "Has Derick Brassard looked this awful the past couple of days?"

Now I had been watching the practice and hadn't really paid that much attention to Brassard but by all means nobody out there, much less Brassard, looked awful. I smiled and thought for a second before I answered. I stated to him that as a casual fan everyones perception of players is different. I told him I thought that Brassard was one of the best players yesterday and told him that I read in the local paper that Hitch thought Brassard, Voracek and Chimera was the best line on the ice yesterday. That's when his real opinions started to come out.

This man was very knowledgable about hockey but very strong in his opinions on the organization and the players. He talked a lot about seeing players in junior hockey and I perceived that he wasn't a local Ohio guy. I had been watching Fedorov over the past couple days and thought he looked a little out of condition and winded so I asked him what he thought of "91's" play. The man said that Fedorov was the best player out there. Like I said earlier, different perspectives. He then proceeded to give his in-depth opinions on the team.

Most of his main points during our conversations involved the younger players and the organization. He talked down on Zherdev as a cancer and someone the team needs to trade. He talked about how young players such as Russell, Brassard, Methot, etc., are not ready and are a couple of years away. He talked about Hitchcock being a tough coach and a hard guy to play for, about him not liking younger players and how he will not be around in a couple of years. He said Hitch will be good to set the foundation but he won't be the coach when the team eventually is competitive. He talked about Doug MacLean, about draft mistakes, about us locals being fooled by his administration. He showed me names he had scribbled on a piece of paper and said these guys would make the team because of their contracts or draft positions not necessarily because of their play. I thought that maybe I was talking to a local guy after all.

Then he stated that Mike Peca would be our second line center and that the Zherdev experiment wouldn't work. At that point I started to respond a little stronger with my own opinions. I told him if Peca was going to be our second line center that our team was in trouble. I stated that I would rather see one of the kids play in that role either on the first or second line positions. I mentioned Brassard, Brule, Fritsche or Platt as options for the top two center positions. Then he came clean and leveled with me, he was the father of one of the players trying to make the team.

I asked him if he thought his son would get a real opportunity to make the team and he said no. Now I understood why he may feel the way he did. I am sure his fatherly instincts that want to see his son be successful were clouding his vision somewhat, not that he was wrong. I had the opportunity to ask him a lot of questions about his sons progression, comparisons to similar players in the league, about other similar players that were playing in the league and were successful, who his son had been playing with in camp and why, and about the possibilty for him to be traded if things didn't work out here. His answers were all genuine and from the heart and I could tell that as frustrated as he may have been that he was very proud of his son. I wished him and his son luck now and in the future. It was very interesting to talk hockey with him from a player/family perspective.

After thinking about our conversion on the way home from the rink, I would imagine I would probably have the same feelings if I was a father in a smilar position.

Off to the game this afternoon. Go Jackets.