Quinn puts Oilers through their paces

, Last Updated: 8:38 PM ET

EDMONTON — Two-a-days instead of three-putting?

Ouch.

The Edmonton Oilers opened mini camp Friday, which pretty much amounts to the NHL’s version of a detention.

They’ve been bad, very, very bad, so instead of going on a field trip to Palm Springs they have to stay in and write lines.

Skate lines, actually.

It was a long, gruelling day for the slumping hockey club, pretty close to one of those eight-hour work days they always hear about.

It started with off-ice conditioning, followed by a film session in which Pat Quinn tore some paint off the wall, followed by 75-minute on-ice session, followed by a flood, followed by another on-ice session that culminated in some hard laps.

“I’ve done it in the past, even with first place clubs,” said Quinn, who decided last week that a four-day break between games would be better spent on the ice than the greens. “There’s a period in your year when you can go back and re-do your system work. With us, it’s where we are. We certainly didn’t expect to be here, but it is reality. We want to reintroduce some things and come out better after.”

The camp isn’t meant to be punitive, it’s not a mindless bag skate. On the contrary, it’s as much about the mind as it is the body.

Ability wise, the Oilers are as good as any of the average teams in the league, they just seem to be lacking everything else that goes with that ability.

“There’s a lot about this team I can’t complain about, their work habits seem pretty good,” said Quinn. “On practice days our spirits seem fine, it’s just during hockey games we seem to get down on ourselves and make those horrendous individual mistakes that change the results.

“We show from time to time that we have enough to compete against a lot of teams (and end up losing). A lot of it has to do, then, with the intelligence and the intangible side of the game that we need to continue to work on.”

And work, they did.

“It was a long day (Friday),” said Ryan Potulny. “A lot of work, a lot to take in mentally.”

They managed to keep their sense of humour, though. At the end of the day, with the exhausted players stretching and panting at centre ice, Souray yelled out to the coaches: “So, for sure we’re not going to Palm Springs?”

But seriously, folks...

“There’s definitely benefit in staying back and practising, going over some of our structural play, watching some video, getting some workouts,” said Souray. “I don’t think anybody would be feeling too good if we were down south enjoying ourselves instead of getting better.”


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