VOORHEES, N.J. -- The real purpose of the Flyers' development camp, which began last week and ended Tuesday, is to take teenagers and teach them in what it’s like to be a professional athlete, while giving them a blueprint for the future that includes high-level training and nutrition.
They even had yoga lessons.
There were 29 players at the camp -– 27 were their own, and two were invitees.
“Training has come a long way,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “The specifics of it and doing it properly and doing it right. [Strength and conditioning coach] Ryan Podell is very good at what he does. He puts in place what is best for each player. Every player is different in what he needs to train and work on. Those guys are just learning that stuff.”
It’s not enough to rise each morning and go to the gym each day like players do once they retire. There’s an entire regimen that has to be followed.
“It’s not just about working out,” Berube said. “It’s about training properly and putting in the time. It’s just as important what you are doing off the ice as well as on the ice.”
The players spent time with a nutritionist, who also took them shopping to teach them what kind of food to buy and how to read labels and check for calories, fat content and so forth.
As for the on-ice competition, this was more about introductory drills and seeing how the Flyers operate as an organization.
“I thought they had very good focus the whole time,” Berube said. “There’s a lot of good, young skill out there, which is important to have in our system.
“The game is about skill and speed. We got some real good prospects and it’s nice that [the Phantoms] are nice and close, too [in Allentown].”
The dates for the Flyers' full training camp in September have not yet been decided.
One thing to watch is the number of players invited.
One of the reasons why last year’s camp was so awful –- club chairman Ed Snider called it the worst training camp in team history -- was because there were too many players.
The Flyers had 68 players in camp last fall. Instead of focusing on their NHL product, they spent far too much time focused on immersing prospects and AHL players with their roster and trying to see how each and every player fit in the system, rather than preparing the club for the NHL season.
It’s no wonder the Flyers got off to a horrendous 1-7 start that cost Peter Laviolette his job.
Snider said in May the sheer number of players involved, and how the camp was structured, needed to be readdressed.
“I don’t know the numbers right now,” Berube said. “I have to sit down with [general manager] Ron [Hextall] and go over that. It’s important to have your people at camp. You don’t want to leave people out. I understand what you are saying, a smaller group. You can get more done and get your work in, which is important during camp. ... You have to get the work in, but it has to be done properly.”
What does Berube remember from his first camp?
“I had three fights in my first scrimmage,” he said.