It’s been a busy week at rinks around the NHL as 24 return-to-play teams hit the ice in preparation for puck drop on Aug. 1.
We’ve been tracking various developments to come out of camps all week. Check back throughout the day as we collect more news and notes from Day 4:
Vegas to continue captain-by-committee approach in playoffs
Starting today’s edition of our training camp blog with a note that came out of yesterday’s camp in Vegas:
The Vegas Golden Knights will continue to play without an official team captain for the remainder of 2019-20, opting not to head into the post-season with a C stitched onto anyone’s sweater but instead continue to rely on a large leadership group.
“We don’t need to add to everything that’s going on here right now. We were playing real well going into the pause, I like how we’ve come out of the pause,” head coach Pete DeBoer told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve got great leadership — a big group of guys that have really taken charge and recognize the opportunity, so we’re just gonna keep it the way it is until we finish this season.”
DeBoer said the team will be naming a captain — the first in franchise history — ahead of next season:
DeBoer: We’re not going to name a captain before we go back, but we will have one prior to the start of next season. pic.twitter.com/zprI9R164r
— y-Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) July 15, 2020
Pastrnak’s return halted, ruled “unfit to play”
However, after his absence was noted on Thursday, head coach Bruce Cassidy announced he’d been ruled “unfit to play.” Unable to elaborate, per league rules, on any player’s absence right now, Cassidy added that the team has no choice but to prepare for any length of possible absence.
Dallas taking advantage of camp do-over
One of the biggest questions about each of the 24 teams returning to play is how quickly they’ll be able to shake off any rust and be at their best right out of the gates.
Though the Dallas Stars eventually emerged as one of the top clubs in the Western Conference — and one of four teams in the West with an automatic berth in Round 1 — it took them a little while to get there. After a lacklustre camp in September, the Stars stumbled out of the gates and lost eight of their first 10 games.
“We were not happy with our training camp last year and it showed coming into October,” interim head coach Rick Bowness said during a media availability Thursday morning.
Bowness said the tone was set prior to players arriving, with a team-wide email to make it clear that this time around things will be “totally different.”
“This is something, clearly, no one’s been through. The intensity coming out of this camp is going to be far greater than coming out of camp in September and early October. You’re going right into it and you’re not going to have time to find your game,” Bowness told reporters. “That’s why it’s important our practices are upbeat, our tempo is good, and we’re working on the things we know we have to work on. The players have to bring a good attitude every day and we can’t waste a day — there’s just not enough time.
The Stars’ place in the standings means they’ll have a little bit of cushion compared to other clubs. While each team will play just one exhibition game prior to the Aug. 1 start date, Dallas’s first real action will come in the form of three round-robin games against the Golden Knights, Avalanche, and Blues, while eight other Western teams are thrown right into a best-of-five qualifying round.
Still, there’s little room for error.
“Our whole mindset has got to be totally different coming into this camp and certainly coming out of this camp — because you’re going right into the fire,” Bowness said.
Miro Heiskanen expects to be up to speed for another playoff run in no time: “I think one exhibition game is enough for me.”
— x-Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) July 16, 2020