Training camps open around NHL after another short offseason

Training camps open around the NHL on Thursday after another short offseason, a third in a row squeezed by the pandemic. That doesn’t bother Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon at all.

For one of hockey’s best players and his teammates, it’s already time to get back on the ice and defend their Stanley Cup title, less than three months after knocking out back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I still feel like I’m playing,” MacKinnon said. “I took two weeks off, then I started skating again. It’s just fun. I like it, and I like the short summer. I feel like the season is starting again. »

The NHL comes into the fall after an entertaining playoff and final with the chance to finally return to a normal schedule. That means full camps for teams that have new coaches and the benefits of a regular routine.

This means barely 88 days between game 6 of the final and the first on-ice training sessions.

“We’re pretty used to it now,” Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy said after he and the Lightning lost in the Finals for the first time in three straight trips. “It’s a bit more difficult, of course, because you don’t have much time to rest. It’s basically a few weeks and you have to get back to it. But, yeah, I can’t complain. You want your summers to be short each year.

It was a bit longer for Connor McDavid and the Oilers after losing to Colorado in the Western Finals. Despite the lack of stoppage time, McDavid “wouldn’t trade that for the world” and is aiming to go even further since Edmonton cemented their goaltending position by adding Jack Campbell.

After a few rotations of the goalie carousel, the Avalanche acquired Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Cup winner Darcy Kuemper landed with Washington. Joining new teammates, many of whom hoisted the Cup in 2018, Kuemper isn’t worried about less free time.

“It was definitely a very unique summer,” Kuemper said. “With the brevity of training, you start going back to the gym and you’re a little worried that your training is so short. But you felt like you weren’t getting back in shape. You were already there.

NEW COACHES

The Oilers are one of many teams settling in for training camp under a new coach. Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach in February, but now holds the position full-time.

“I’m looking forward to going to camp with him,” McDavid said. “He did a great job coming into the middle of the season, but it’s never easy for a manager, that’s for sure. I’m sure there are things he wanted to address that you don’t know about. couldn’t address in the middle of the year, then he can address all of this this year.

The same goes for Bruce Boudreau in Vancouver, 11 months after taking charge of the Canucks. Philadelphia’s John Tortorella, Boston’s Jim Montgomery, Vegas’ Bruce Cassidy, Dallas’ Peter DeBoer, Florida’s Paul Maurice, Chicago’s Luke Richardson, Detroit’s Derek Lalonde and New York Islanders’ Lane Lambert are all starting work fresh.

CAMP TRIALS

About 40 players attend a camp under a professional trial agreement with the possibility of earning a contract for the season. James Neal has that opportunity with the Blue Jackets, and Derek Stepan has returned to Carolina to seek employment with the Hurricanes.

The most intriguing situation concerns 37-year-old center Eric Staal, who accepted the tryout with Florida at the same time his brother Marc signed a one-year contract. Younger brother Jordan was with Eric and Marc on the 18th green at Pebble Beach to witness the occasion.

“They’re both super motivated, just like me,” said Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal. “Eric is thrilled with this opportunity and so is Marc. Really cool. Really cool thing.

EARLY START

Before the puck drops during the NHL season in North America on October 11, the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks play twice in Prague on October 7 and 8. And these are not exhibitions.

“We still have two important games to play,” said Sharks striker Tomas Hertl, from Prague. “It’s not just pre-season where you come here to warm up.”

Colorado and Columbus will also play two games in Tampere, Finland on Nov. 4-5 as part of the NHL World Series.

And just as the league is getting used to a regular schedule, work is underway between the league and the NHL Players’ Association to host a World Cup of Hockey in February 2024, which is popular among players even though this again upsets the calendar.

“I think they missed a huge, huge part of the international game that we’re really going to miss,” McDavid said. “We have to find a way to organize an international tournament as soon as possible.”

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Follow AP Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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