| Training camp
Some tips on attending camp
Hockey is on the horizon folks. Training camp is
right around the corner, followed by the Sharks 23rd NHL season and crack at
conquering Lord Stanleys Cup. Ive seen a few questions regarding
how training camp works and the best way for hockey fans to partake in the
pre-season festivities, so I thought Id throw together something. If you
have other suggestions or comments, feel free to post them in the
The first thing that you need to know
is that not all preseason practices are open to the public. Many are, but only
if they are held at Sharks Ice on 10th Street in San Jose, and even that is not
a guarantee. All practices held at HP Pavilion are traditionally closed to the
To see when practices are held, check the Sharks website for
the official schedule. I always post schedules in the
Training Camp section
of the site, so thats also a good source, and can be easier to find than
the Sharks schedule. Official timelines have yet to be published, so dont
be confused with last seasons info.
For those practices at
Sharks Ice that are open to the public, be sure to get there early, especially
for weekend practices. The facility houses more than one rink, and the Sharks
will utilize more than one sheet of ice for practices, but seating is limited
and it will fill up. Weekday practices are always a better bet. The south rink
has the fewest number of seats, so if you intend on attending a practice there,
early arrival is a must.
Ice rinks are essentially large freezers, so
dress accordingly. Unless youre used to sitting in an ice-box, dressed in
shorts and flip-flops for an extended period, I would recommend heartier
choices of apparel for a training-camp practice. Long pants and a jacket will
make your experience more bearable.
As for what to expect at a
training camp practice, keep in mind that youre attending a practice, not
Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Youll typically see lots of skating and
skills drills. Youll also see more conditioning related activity early in
the camp schedule. That means more skating and less time with an actual puck.
That can get monotonous, unless youre simply there to see the players on
the ice. As camp draws closer to the start of the regular season, youll
tend to see more scrimmages and situational training.
confines of Sharks Ice will get you up close and personal to players who will
be practicing within a puck toss of spectator areas, but dont count on
any autograph opportunities while players are in uniform. Theyre there to
work, and will marched onto the ice from locker-room facilities that are
off-limits to spectators.
If its Joe Thorntons John
Hancock that you seek, plan on hanging out after the practice in the back
parking lot (between the training facility and Municipal Stadium). While not
guaranteed, some players will take the time to autograph your favorite jersey
It pays to do your homework and figure out who the
Sharks top prospects are and go after their autographs now. Those not likely to
make the roster this season, could be next years breakout star. The only
word of advice here is to be personable. Nobody likes pushy autograph seekers,
especially those that bring half their memorabilia collection with them. Hockey
players, especially prospects, are as down-to-earth as they come, but keep in
mind these guys just went through a couple hours of intense training. Give them
a little room.
Given the exploitation of autographs for profit, you
may be better served to simply bring your camera and ask your favorite player
to pose for a picture with you and little Johnny. Players may be more open to
this, rather than signing a puck that might end up on eBay before the day is
As for those prospects, recognize that many of them wont
be around long. While the NHL doesnt have mandatory cut-down dates, teams
will make cuts throughout camp in order to assign prospects to the clubs they
will most likely be spending the bulk of the season with.
camp serves a couple of purposes. Yes, it gives the coaching staff an
opportunity to evaluate players who may be on the bubble, but it also provides
some of those prospects with a taste of what the big show is all about. It
provides them with some incentive to work hard after theyre assigned to
their minor league clubs.
Because of the large number of players that
will be in camp early on, its also difficult to know which players will
make appearances in pre-season games. San Jose will play three games at SAP
Center and three games on the road in NHL arenas, before beinning the 2013-14
One of the nice things about public practice sessions
is that theyre free. This also makes it easier to bring the kids along,
because youre not shelling out an extra $60 for their ticket, only to
have them fall asleep in your lap 10-minutes into the event. Do keep in mind
however that some players are literally fighting to get noticed. Fisticuffs in
training camp are not-uncommon, so be prepared to explain why haymakers are
flying to the little ones should a fight breakout on the ice. Remember that
you're going to be a lot closer to the action, so you'll get to see some of
those cuts up close and personal.
Use all the money youll save in
the on-site equipment store. There are plenty of hockey related items in the
store for both you and the little ones. Theres also a snack bar on site,
which can come in handy, as there are no restaurants within the immediate
vicinity of Sharks Ice.
If youve never made the trek to training
camp, its a must for any hard core Shark fan. Just make sure you plan
ahead by checking on schedules, which can change on a day-to-day basis.
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