Injuries. Every single year someone’s career gets a little derailed by getting hurt at either a prospect tournament, training camp, or in the preseason. It feels like that, anyway.
The prospects tournament in Traverse City is incredible. https://www.centreice.org...6-nhl-prospect-tournament
Take a look at that schedule. In 5 days (one day off in the middle) there are 4 games per day for 4 days. On 2 sheets of ice. That ice gets wrecked, and so do some players. After that, players then go to training camp. https://www.centreice.org.../482510-drw-training-camp
4 days of intense drilling, testing and workouts. Players get hurt here too. Banged up, at least.
4 or 5 years ago, my wife and I were walking into the arena and there was an ambulance backed up to the building. Darren Helm had collided with another player, just warming up, and both were being taken to the hospital. When Helm turned on the jets, he was incredible to watch. A lot like Larkin and Athanasiou now. As it was explained, he was just going full out (players can hit 30mph or better) and ran into another kid going full out. The collision echoed in the rink.
If you remember old, violent drivers ed videos, you’ll have seen what it looks like when 2 cars going 30 mph collide. It’s a nightmare. In the human body, organs and even the brain will bounce violently back and forth. In the case of the brain, it can “touch” the back of the skull (concussion) and then touch the front of the skull (another concussion) multiple times depending on how hard the initial hit was and then how hard the player hits the ice.
That was before any drills were done. The ice is choppy from a four day tournament and guys aren’t fully aware of everyone yet. In scrimmages, young guys are throwing hits trying to win a job (if they can’t score). A young Tyler Bertuzzi took out Nick Jensen in their first camp and Nick was out for a while. And then, enter the preseason. Most games are played by the same kids fighting for jobs that played in a 5 day tournament, then a 4 or 5 day camp. Now they’re fighting for jobs against other kids who want to “make a statement”. If they get hurt, forget it. You’re going back to junior. Even if they make an impression, coaches will side with a veteran and tell the kid to “dominate” at the other level.
I love the competition, but the pre season grind seems like a bit much. The bruises from a tournament are then covered with the bruises of training camp and then the bruises of preseason. And then, IF someone makes it, 82 games. That’s a lot of opportunity to get hurt.
Each year, a class of undrafted or unsigned College Free agents come in and take the spot of some kid who tried to make it through the ranks. I love the college model, and think it develops kids in a way better environment. Fewer games, you can’t get traded, more time to bulk up and strengthen with teammates you have for years. Plus, an education.
I worry that training camps, preseason and then regular season are wrecking kids before they really get going. The length of the NHL season is a bit ridiculous as well, but with revenue sharing that’s not going to change. The players need to look at themselves and each other and decide if there needs to be some changes here. Training camps are already shorter. They used to be 2 weeks, or even a month. But now they have to get more done in a shorter period of time. I’m just holding my breath hoping Evgeni Svechnikov makes it out unscathed this year...