There’s a lot to talk about after physicals and interviews on the first day of training camp. Unfortunately, I’m on a tight schedule so let me get to some highlights:
<li>Players were bouncing around the Training Center, but just about everyone, including Tom Renney, was available to talk. In the absence of any hard news — still nothing to report on Brendan Shanahan, who wasn’t here — most just talked about their expectations for the season ahead. Some, like Scott Gomez, again spoke openly about a Stanley Cup, while Markus Naslund would only say this is a playoff team, and that just about anything can happen from there.
“But this team in mind is capable of being one of the top teams in the league,” Naslund said.
<li>Naslund also shrugged at the notion that he’s the guy to replace Jaromir Jagr.
“That’s not really fair because Jaromir in my mind is one of the best players to ever play the game,” Naslund said. “I’m not going to be able to fill his shoes on my own. But I’ll do my best to play as good as I can. Hopefully it’s going to be a team effort and that’s where we’re going to have success.”
<li>I asked Gomez if he’s more willing to take on a prominent role in his second season. “Yeah, I’ll tell a guy to f– off now,” he cracked.
<li>A bit about the training camp schedule. Players will be divided into three teams — red, white, and blue. The red team is essentially the group that is in Traverse City now while the blue and white are primarily comprised of the players who will play in the exhibition games. There are exceptions. For instance, Bobby Sanguinetti and Michael Del Zotto are both on the red team, and they are likely to see some time in preseason games.
It appears that players will be assigned to Hartford prior to the last exhibition game before Europe, which is Sept. 27.
<li>Renney will obviously use the first days of training camp to tinker with line combinations. From what I saw, Gomez, Nikolai Zherdev, and Naslund will all be on the blue team together; while Chris Drury, Petr Prucha, and Nigel Dawes will be on the white. Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan are on the blue as well. I will clarify later if need be.
<li>Strange sight in the player’s lounge: Wade Redden was talking to the media while a replay of the 2007 Stanley Cup finals between Ottawa and Anaheim was playing on the NHL Network in the background. At one point, Redden scored.
“Nice shot,” someone said.
“Yeah, hopefully you’ll be seeing plenty of that this year,” Redden replied.
<li>Only a split squad will travel to the exhibition games. On Saturday, it’s the white team that will travel to Ottawa, while the blue and red will stay back in Westchester and skate. From what I can tell, Naslund and Zherdev will make their debuts Monday at the Garden as part of the blue team.
That’s all for now. More later…