Pearn's camp heralds new season

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Unofficially, Perry Pearn's three-on-three conditioning camp signals the start of hockey season.

For many professionals, it marks the first time they're on the ice in a competitive environment.

"It's good for everybody, that's why you see a lot of players from around the league here," Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque said after yesterday's workout at the Knights of Columbus arena.

"It's a good thing to do just before training camp. Perry is a great coach around the league, he knows his hockey. The drills are tough and that's perfect going into training camp. When you get to the main camp, you'll be used to it."

What started as a fundraising idea 19 years ago when Pearn -- now an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens -- was running the hockey program at NAIT has turned into a successful business enterprise.

Pearn operates three different camps in three separate cities, catering to a number of different age categories.

Edmonton is the only city to host a professional camp, where current and budding NHLers come to work out the kinks of a long off-season.

"The pro camp was the end result of what we started with younger kids, because a lot of our first group, guys like Jarome Iginla and Jason Strudwick, graduated to the pros, so we took it a step further," Pearn said.

"All the kids that grew up here that went on to play in the NHL wanted to come back.

"Now we have a new generation of kids that are coming through, like Jay Bouwmeester, Erik Christensen and Mike Comrie, who were the most recent grads of the minor three-on-three."

The two-week camp started yesterday and runs through Aug. 28 at the K of C arena (137 Avenue and 131 Street).

"Up until now, we've been on the ice, but it's just been kind of screwing around," Bouwmeester said. "This is a good pace and I'm sure it'll get better over the next week."


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