Oil camp wraps up

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:27 PM ET

As Allen Iverson so eloquently reminds us, practice isn’t supposed to be taken seriously.

 

And it definitely isn’t supposed to be fun.

But the Edmonton Oilers week-long development camp — two hours a day of nothing but drills — turned out to be both for the 30 prospects at Millennium Place.

“I learned a lot,” said 2011 first pick overall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins after the final session wrapped up Saturday morning. “The tempo was really fast. It’s definitely a new experience coming to an NHL camp. It’s good getting the first one in.”

The objective was to identify each player’s strengths and weaknesses and provide drills and instructions specific to his own needs. It’s like private instruction in a group setting.

“You have to find a way to get better,” said co-ordinator of development Billy Moores. “The draft is just the first part, then it’s what you do with them when you get them.”

The program represents another step in a developmental evolution for an organization that not that long ago didn’t even have its own AHL team.

“We wanted them to be exposed to certain resource people, off ice things and life skills,” said Moores. “When you have athletes from all over the world you’re trying to develop a common understanding and a common base. This is what we think is important.”

Fourth-round pick Dillon Simpson, son of former Oiler Craig, enjoyed the social element as much as the physical.

“This is where (being Oilers property) kind of sinks in,” said the 6-foot-1 defenceman from the University of North Dakota. “I put the jersey on for the first time this week and got to skate with the guys and be around the coaches and stuff. It’s a great feeling.

“It was a great experience; you got a good taste of the atmosphere and the culture, what’s expected, what’s not expected, that kind of thing.

“It’s a good help and it was a good development week but at the same time I had a lot of fun.

“It’s good to get to know the guys in the system, especially me being a college kid, I don’t know any of the Dub (WHL) guys or the O (OHL) guys. It was really good to get to know them better, we were kind of like a team by the end of the week.”

It’ll help when they get to rookie camp in Penticton or main camp a week later.

“A lot of guys who just got drafted, they come in and they’re really nervous,” said Colten Teubert. “I was in their shoes two years ago. I remember my first camp was really nerve-wracking, you’re squeezing your stick really tight. But once you get comfortable as a team hopefully we can really come together.

“And they’re giving us an opportunity to bring what we learned here back to where we live. For us to have the opportunity to take what we can from these guys is pretty awesome.”

The coaches were equally impressed with the players.

“You have to be able to take in anything, you have to be able to listen and then go out and execute,” said Moores. “Guys couldn’t have been better. We talked about receptiveness to coaching, they couldn’t have been better.

“All those things are indicators of attitude. When you have people who consistently show up and put in a good effort and execute, we think that’s a foundation for long term success. It’s an indicator of character.”

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca

TWITTER.com/SUN_TYCHKOWSKI

 


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