Jabber Jaws: Notes from Day 1 of development camp
McCarthy: “The NHL is an incredibly hard league to make, and it’s an even harder league to stay in.”
After a busy draft weekend, the San Jose Sharks began their development camp on Tuesday. Following a day full of running drills, conditioning, on-ice and off-ice evaluations, forwards Scott Reedy and Thomas Bordeleau, along with San Jose Barracuda head coach John McCarthy, spoke with the media to talk about the first day of camp.
Here are the highlights of what they had to say:
On the mindset coming into development camp: I think it’s a pretty similar mindset, but it’s nice to have that full year under my belt. This year, I just want to try to be a leader for the younger guys, having the experience being around here.
On going between the AHL and NHL last season: I was in a position to play a lot in the AHL, power play, 5-on-5, just getting confidence playing at the pro-level was really important for me. It really paid off to get those games in early and take that next step.
On having a new general manager: Hockey is a business, stuff like that is going to happen, but we’re all excited. We’re all obviously thankful for that staff and everything they did for us, but we’re excited to move forward. It’s just something that happens in sports, and you have to get ready for the new style and take it head on.
On improving his game: I think it’s just getting back into training — my biggest focus is my quickness, playing with speed, picking pucks off the wall and being able to take those first steps quickly while playing.
On advice for the young players coming up: You have to stay strong mentally. There’s going to be ups and downs, but you have to compete every day. It’s all about having a competitive nature and earning your stripes, earning your spots. There’s always someone watching, whether it’s on the ice early or working on your stuff independently. You just always work on your game and stay competitive, earn your spot.
On Patrick Marleau making an appearance: I wasn’t out there with him — I’m not sure if he was on the other rink or not, but I was out on this one. He was in our video session this morning, and everyone was pretty shocked that he was here. It’s obviously pretty cool for us young guys to see him wanting to be around us and talk to us about hockey. It’s pretty cool.
It was a surprise for all of us. I saw him walk in, and I was pretty shocked. It was cool that he was kind of giving us his two cents during the video session. It’s always nice to have a guy like that around.
On the mindset coming into development camp: The nerves are definitely out of the way a little bit. Just spending a little time here with the staff and some of the players, kind of just knowing the place a little more. I’m still a rookie, still the young guy, but it’s especially nice to have a feel of the place a little bit before coming in here.
Definitely not taking anything for granted. It’s a whole new staff — a whole new team, basically, so I’m trying to make a brand new team. I just want to show them what I can do and show them what I’m made of.
On having a new general manager: I think it just shows how much hockey is a business. Everything can change at any moment, and you have to be ready for that. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m sure it’s going to keep changing in the next couple of days and weeks, but I’m just excited for whoever’s going to be in charge.
I think we’re all just trying to figure out what’s going to happen. Everything’s still changing, so we’re just excited to see what the future is going to hold for all of us. There’s not much that we can control, but we just keep working.
On improving his game: I haven’t had a lot of time in the gym, that’s for sure. I started working out again probably two, two and a half weeks ago. I think my overall strength is my priority right now, so that’s what I want to work on for the summer.
On World Juniors: It’s definitely going to be a first, playing in the summer. I think people aren’t really used to that. I think it’s going to be a great experience for the boys to just play some hockey.
I think everyone respected the fact that it was kind of my decision to go. It was a long process, we didn’t know if I wanted to go, or stuff like that. It ended up working out pretty well. I have a great relationship with Team USA after a lot of years with them. Even if I never ended up going to the tournament, all the camps I did with Team USA, it’s been great. I love all the people there, and it’s going to be great to see them again.
I love every single guy that’s on that team. I’ve even played with them or spent time with them in some way — some guys are from Michigan too, so it’s going to be great to see them again.
On Marleau: I believe it was my first time meeting him, yeah. He just walked in and everyone was surprised. He’s one of the greats — he’s a legend, so it’s pretty special to see him, especially to see how much he cares about this place.
On his goals coming out of training camp: Obviously, there’s on-ice stuff, a couple of skills here and there, but the biggest thing is really building relationships. Especially with the younger guys, draft picks, and maybe one day, your future teammates. We want to get that relationship going as early as possible so it’s all the more fun.
On advice for the young players coming up: I’ve talked to them a little bit, and obviously, there’s a lot of them. I’m not really gonna tell them what to do, stuff like that, because they know what they’re supposed to do, and they’re great players. They’re here for a reason. I think I just want to lighten up the mood, you know? I know it’s a stressful moment for some of the new guys because the nerves are there to make a first impression. I just want to try and keep it light, try to keep it fun in the locker room. Sometimes just crack jokes and keep it light to make things a little better for them.
On first impressions: It was good. It’s kind of the first time we got our hands on a lot of the guys, getting to work with them on the ice. We’re really looking more at the way they approach it — everyone’s at different points, some guys have been to three or four camps, some of them it’s their first one. What we’re really looking for is how they process information, because there’s a lot being thrown at them right now — a little like drinking out of a fire hose, but it’s kind of by design. We want to see how they deal with those situations.
On not having coaching infrastructure at camp: I guess it’s a little different, but the guys who we do have here, everyone’s really dialed in. We’ve done a lot of prep work to make sure things go smoothly. It’s only one day, but it’s been good so far.
On Marleau: I was surprised to see him too. It was good to have him though, it was great. I think having a guy like that around, guys can pick his brain. I was on the other rink, but the guys loved having him around. He’s an asset, absolutely.
On taking the role of Barracuda head coach: I’ve been building a staff so far, doing a lot of interviews and talking to a lot of people. We’re also kind of figuring out the way we want to play, talking to other coaches that way as well — picking their brains on how they set up their process throughout the year. It’s nice because you can kind of talk to a lot of people, pick and choose things you like, things you don’t. That’s the beauty of being able to make these decisions.
On coaching synergy between teams: That’s a mandate in our organization for the reason of call-ups. I think we need to not only play the same way, but have systems in place as well so it can be a seamless transition. Being in the same city is an advantage of that. I do think it’s important that once we get a coach in place, we get together and talk all that out.
On the Barracuda identity: Same as the Sharks: hard-working, competitive, hard to play against — I think those are the three biggest things. We want other teams to know they’re playing against the Barracuda like the Sharks do, as well. To me, it comes down to winning those 1-on-1 battles and playing with the puck. It’s frustrating when you play a team that possesses the puck the whole game. As a player, that is what’s always hard to play against because you’re always defending. That’s the type of team we want to be.
On how to reach that identity: I think it starts with identifying goals for players. I think players appreciate that clarity, that way when they come in, they realize the way they’re expected to play and the role they’re expected to fill. Another thing that we want to incorporate is a symmetry between their role on the Barracuda and the Sharks. I think that’s important, because the role dictates how you play. We want to see winnings streaks, that’s where you see them ready to take the jump.
On a message to the players during camp: We’re doing a lot of teaching this week, but there is a competitive aspect to this camp. Moving forward into training camp, it’s going to be competitive to make the Sharks — the NHL is an incredibly hard league to make, and it’s an even harder league to stay in. Guys who played last year, it’s not guaranteed that they’re playing this year, they have to earn their spot.
*Lightly edited for clarity.