This wont be the first time that Peter Laviolette has dealt with a shortened camp.
Hes done it before of course, it wasnt so much of a training camp as it was a heres a new system to learn overnight bootcamp.
Thats what Laviolette was up against on Dec. 5, 2009, when he replaced John Stevens. He had less than 24 hours to get the Flyers up to speed on his way of thinking before they would go out and get thrashed by Washington, 8-2.
Ive been in situations where Ive taken over halfway through the year where you have one practice to get everything on the table, Laviolette said.
There, you cant get everything on the table. You try and pick one or two things, and then its a work in progress from there.
Back then, Laviolettes club lost four of its first five games trying to adjust. Eventually, he turned the Flyers around as they would advance to the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago that spring.
Back then it was a disadvantage to our team, he said. Now everybodys got the same time and everybody is in the same boat. I do think we have enough time. Im comfortable with it.
Training camp is expected to open this weekend, probably Saturday or Sunday, once the NHLPA ratification vote on the CBA is finalized.
A 48-game schedule could be played out over 102 days if the league utilizes the entire month of April. Some of the players feel the schedule will be even tighter.
The good news is, the Flyers didnt tear up their entire roster over the summer. Returning players only need a refresher course not a learning seminar.
That Terry Murrays Phantoms use a similar system makes for a smoother transition in going from the AHL to the NHL here.
Some of it will be refresher and some of it will be new, Laviolette said. Camp is the time to get everything on the table and the puck drops. Most people in the league are probably in for their first shortened experience. We will all be learning.
"In a regular season, in a regular year, when it gets to be after Christmas time, those games become so important and those points become so important, and were there now. The emphasis will be to try and put things into the place with regards to systems and our team. And chemistry and lines and get going.
One thing that we can pull from last year is that we have a lot of returning players who have played the system and are comfortable in the locker room and comfortable with their teammates, coaching staff and the system we play.
Much like 1994-95 with the 48-game lockout-shortened season, this will be a sprint to the finish. Less practices, little rest, playing meaningful games every other day.
Every game matters, defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. Theres no easing into it. Its a battle for the points right away. Its going to be tough. I havent played since last May and it may take a few games to get sharp, but everybodys in the same boat.
General manager Paul Holmgren said he already identified to Murray the players hes going to lose. Obviously, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo three fulltime Flyers will be coming back.
So will part-timers Harry Zolnierczyk and Eric Wellwood. One of those two should make the final roster.
The Flyers' defense is a wreck right now with injuries. Though Andrej Meszaros has been cleared to join camp, theres no guarantee hes going to start the season. Erik Gustafsson has a foot injury. Marc-Andre Bourdon has post-concussion syndrome.
Barring a trade or signing, Brandon Mannings presence will be necessitated in this camp and possibly on the roster.
We still haven't settled on who is going to come in from the Phantoms other than the obvious guys, Holmgren said.
There are some guys that played well down there Ty McGinn and Jason Akeson and could perhaps get looks here in a short training camp that we're going to have. Ice time is always up for grabs, and that's a good thing.
From Laviolettes perspective, a fair number 17 or so players have been playing regularly in either the AHL or Europe during the lockout.
Most of the 23-man roster should be in shape.
Everybody is excited, Laviolette said. Were back. You start to see faces around here. Thats always a good thing.
Though there are no exhibition games, Laviolette said he wont use camp emphasizing scrimmages. Again, these players are mostly already in game shape.
Its really important that we try to get an understanding of what were trying to do, he said.
Make sure we are prepared and make sure the guys are skating and really moving on the ice. That is important, as well.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org
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