NORTH SMITHFIELD, RI The first official day of training camp is in the books with the Providence Bruins, as Group B wrapped up their skating session at the Rhode Island Sports Center on Friday afternoon.
Group B included Chris Bourque, Ryan Spooner and Matt Bartkowski, among others, and they were enthusiastic about being out on the ice even if it wasnt quite the NHL training camp theyd originally envisioned. In all, 34 skaters reported to Providence for the first day of training camp, including those with NHL experience like Bourque, Bartkowski, Jordan Caron, Max Sauve, Garnet Exelby, Christian Hanson, Carter Camper, Trent Whitfield and Torey Krug.
It felt a little strange to the players starting late and without the regular Bs roster, but they were happy to be back on the ice.
Usually around this time youre in the middle of the exhibition games in an NHL training camp, said Bourque, who undoubtedly would be getting ready for back-to-back games in Saskatoon and Winnipeg right now if the NHL exhibition season hadnt been scrapped. But its also nice to get things started here, and to meet all the guys and get the fitness testing done.
Finally getting on the ice feels good, and now were back in the swing of things.
For the Bruins coaching staff -- and front office members like Peter Chiarelli, Don Sweeney and Jim Benning -- it was a chance to finally get out of the house and evaluate their players rather than sitting and waiting for the NHL lockout to be over.
So just how difficult has it been for Chiarelli to sit, watch, and wait while his training camp and preseason schedule have fallen victim to the lockout thats now 13 days and counting?
You should ask my wife that . . . shes ready to kick me out of the house," said the Bruins' general manager. "I miss it. Its a really exciting time to see everybody competing for jobs and to see the fruit of their labor after working hard all summer. I miss it and hope to see it soon.
Its also exciting to watch hockey again. For the last 20 years of my life at every training camp it seems like you miss it. This is obviously a little different setting, but the guys are energetic. Well have some scrimmages on the weekend well be back at it.
Its not quite NHL hockey, obviously, but the Providence Bruins and the AHL will have to be enough until the NHL and NHLPA can finally secure some middle ground for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.