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Author: J.S. Trzcienski (Canadiens.com)Date: 07/09/2004
Prospects promised packed slate at development camp

MONTREAL – Just for the record, the Canadiens’ 2004 development camp won’t be all work and no play for its participants. But for those who might be wondering, the 10-day event won’t exactly be a picnic, either.

“The guys are here to work hard, and we need 100 percent commitment out of them,” noted Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens’ Director of Player Personnel and a main architect of the schedule to be followed by the 25 camp invitees over the next week-and-a-half. “They need to respect that they’re on their way to becoming professionals, and that this is their job. They can’t be taking two steps forward and one step back.”

In other words, late nights on the town and large orders of poutine are verboten.

“Exactly,” Timmins concurred. “We’ll have an imposed curfew that I’ll be checking up on myself.”

So what’s in store for such high-level prospects as Andrei Kostitsyn (the 2003 1st Round draft pick arrived in Montreal for the first time on Thursday and clarified the official spelling of his last name) Kyle Chipchura, and others? On Friday, the players began a finely-tuned agenda that will see them split their days equally between physical and mental exercises.

“They’re not being scouted at all,” said Timmins. “What we’re trying to do is provide education to our prospects to help them improve as hockey players and to give them the knowledge of what it takes to make it in the NHL.”

The Sportplexe Arena in Pierrefonds will be the talent’s home away from the Bell Centre for most skating and physical drills. After some introductory ice-breakers on Thursday night and some routine physicals on Friday, the players began a largely regimented schedule that will see most days begin with power skating – sessions using resistance training and other techniques to improve their on-ice agility – followed by a group practice that will wrap up by noon.

Afternoons will be preceded by lunch back at the Bell Centre, then filled with such diverse clinics as how to manage finances, deal with the media, apply strength training principles, and more.

“There’s a seminar essentially every day, and those cover various life skills,” Timmins explained. “We want to help them off the ice as much as on the ice.”

One such innovative way the club plans on doing so: With a trip to the Montreal Culinary Institute for a cooking class.

“You’ve got to remember, some of these kids are teenagers and barely know how to boil water,” Timmins explained. “So we’re taking them to this class to teach them how to cook a healthy pre-game meal. They’ll actually prepare it with an instructor then eat it for dinner.”

While Julia Child can probably sleep easy, Jacques Villeneuve may need to watch his back. On the menu of more entertaining activities are a trip to an Alouettes game, a movie night… and a go-kart outing that will culminate in a full-on race.

Does Timmins have plans to join the fun and put the pedal to the metal in his own right?

“I think so -- I’d like to,” he said optimistically. “One thing I’m trying to do with this camp is bring the players together as a family, as a team. Some of these guys are under contract now, and hopefully more of them will be, and this is their future. They need to become more than teammates on the ice; they need to become friends and able to do anything for one another.”

Toward that end, the club will be doing everything it can to help break down any barriers that exist among the camp’s attendees, an issue that will no doubt come into play given the six countries and six languages (English, French, Finnish, Swedish, Czech, and Russian) that will be represented. Groups for various exercises will be chosen with diversity in mind, encouraging the players to learn about one another and their respective cultures. As much as the team can, it will strive to keep cliques from forming that would otherwise serve only to isolate the players from one another.

It will help, ultimately, that most in camp are at least modestly conversant in English. According to Timmins, the lone talent who has yet to pick up on the language is Kostitsyn, who will have a translator at his side to help with any and all communication.

Once the talent hits the ice, of course, the language of hockey is universal.

J.S. Trzcienski is the Site Manager for canadiens.com.

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