Today is a very big day for the 30 teams of the NHL. This is the day when players undergo their annual physicals in anticipation of training camp and the preseason.
I’ve been following my hockey Twitterfeed, and I get the impression that this is no fun at all (Matt Duchene tweeted the hashtag #letsgetitoverwith). I guess even the established guys have to undergo theV02 max test, which is that test where the guy gets on a stationary bike and pedals as hard and fast as he can, all while breathing into a tube while his nose is pinched. We’ve seen this at the combine, but I didn’t know it had a name.
This is just one thing the guys have to endure – there are blood tests as well as tests on their heart, brain and joints that act as baseline guides in case, heaven forbid, something bad happens during the season. They’ll be poked, prodded and pushed to the limit – and that’s before they hit training camp. Speaking of, there’s an official list of when training camp begins for the teams; it can be found here. It looks like they’ll all begin on the 17th, with Detroit’s beginning on the 18th. A few noteworthy ones:
– The Chicago Blackhawks begin their camp minus Patrick Sharp. He had an emergency appendectomy on Monday, and he’s expected to miss a lot of camp to recover. But expect Patrick Kane to show up – if not on the first day, then sometime in the first few days. He got the splint off for good yesterday, so he’s back in play. Also look for the epic battle between Ray Emery and Alex Salak to be Corey Crawford’s backup.
– The Boston Bruins will be coming off a short summer after their Cup win. They’ll also be short a few people – Mark Recchi retired, while Marc Savard has been scratched from the season entirely. No doubt they’ll work to repeat their win.
– The Pittsburgh Penguins will have some familiar faces back on the ice – Evgeni Malkin will return after his knee injury, and Sidney Crosby will report to camp but not have contact. Missing from the roster, of course, is Max Talbot, who moved to the other side of Pennsylvania to play for Philadelphia.
– The Florida Panthers will arrive to camp with fresh faces such as Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Kris Versteeg and Jose Theodore. With a new look to their jerseys and roster, they’ll begin their push for the Stanley Cup.
– The Washington Capitals will be answering two questions: did Alex Ovechkin get fat? Will Michal Neuvirth be starting goalie, or will he give that up to Tomas Vokoun? Get the popcorn out for this one.
– Finally, the Los Angeles Kings will be returning to wear silver and black, but they’ll be minus a body. Drew Doughty is still unsigned, and he won’t report to camp unless an eleventh-hour deal is reached.
Preseason begins on the 19th. Can you smell the ice? Can you hear the sound of stick blades hitting pucks? Hockey’s back, and it won’t be much longer till the season begins.