Don’t let the 80-degree day fool you. The calendar says autumn and the cool chills in the spanking new Northwell Health Ice Center brings up thoughts of winter’s game.
And today, the Islanders new practice facility welcomed its first training camp as most of the team reported for duty.
“It’s world class,” said defenseman Travis Hamonic. “It’s beautiful. It’s big. It’s accessible. We have everything we need here. The Islanders went above and beyond with this facility to make sure we are comfortable. It’s the best in the league for sure.”
Excused absences went to coach Jack Capuano, John Tavares and Jaroslav Halak, all of whom are at the World Cup in Toronto, but they are expected back soon.
More importantly, though, with the festivities up north, all the NHL teams will have truncated training camp with preseason games starting on Monday.
With new faces Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera, and PA Parenteau joining the club, the Isles will have to waste little time to get everything on track.
“It’s difficult as a staff,” said assistant coach Doug Weight, who ran camp today with Capuano absent. “We have a game Monday, two Tuesday, a day of practice and then another game. It’s a challenge. You want to fit every bit of film and every bit of teaching.”
Harmonic said that many of the Islanders came into town sooner to get ready for the year, practicing on their own, something that may help the club going forward.
But remember, Weight said it was like “bad ice” because every team is going through this and every team is incomplete with the World Cup going on.
And maybe, the teams that come together the earliest can get out to a quick start, which is important, because as Harmonic said that the games in October are just as important as March.
“You realize early on one or two game swing in October can make a big difference down the stretch,” he said. “Everything is important and you want to use it as motivation down the line.”
Today was all systems go, according to Weight. The Islanders seemed to be ready even without some of their key teammates and their coach. It’s just time to get prepared.
“Today’s practice was excellent,” Weight said. “We got through a couple of systems and we stung them a little bit. It’s a tremendous challenge to get everything in and you are trying to get teams together then you need to get specialty teams in.”
The Islanders, though, seem up to the task at hand. Capuano is expected back tomorrow, while Halak, Tavares and the rest at the World Cup will be here in the next few days.
And maybe they will have the same feeling as Hamonic, because this is definitely a team that seems like it’s ready to do something special this season.
“It was great and it’s awesome,” Hamonic said. “It’s like the first day of school coming into the year in a new facility. It’s world class and unbelievable. It’s been pretty fun so far.”
The fun is just starting.