|Sean Pronger a.k.a. "The Journeyman"|
|Sunday, 21 September 2008 15:34|
Here I sit in my office/library/bedroom, drinking a PBR, 5 years removed from my last NHL training camp thinking about how much I don't miss this time of the year. Of all the hockey season this is the one I disliked the most. I'll get into it later.
Lets get a few things clear before I begin......I'm not a journalist (I'll leave that to Broph - my 6 yr old will be my editor), I'm not a reporter (I'll leave that to Murph - although cheerleader might be a better handle...Go Nucks Go....right Dan!!!), I'm not an analyst (although I like to think I could be), and I'm not a commentator (slurred speech...tough break). I'm an ex ECHLer, IHLer, AHLer, DELer (Germany) and NHLer.
The exact number of teams is blurry but I think its around 16 in 11 years. I'm was the K-nish of pro hockey..."just grinding out the rent money" You can call me "a suitcase", " a depth player", "a role player", "a bubble guy", "a healthy scratch" (When I played for the Rangers, Esa Tikanen and I were scratched from a game in Colorado and we were making our way up to the nosebleed section when a group of about 25 fans starting chanting "HEALTHY SCRATCH!!, HEALTHY SCRATCH!!"....I've always hated Avs fans). My personal favorite and the only one I'll answer to is "Journeyman"
Chris asked me to post something on his website and told me to write about whatever I wanted. I had complete creative control. Yeah right!! He then told me to email him the blog and he'd post it. "No changes" he promised......we'll see.
As I read through his blog before training camp I couldn't help but laugh about how different his training camp experiences are compared with mine (and many others). This might be a great place to start for my first blog. What is training camp like for those players that still have the dream to play regularly in the NHL but are on the lower end of the depth chart every training camp?
In order to appreciate what these guys go through you need to put yourself in their shoes. Picture it: You are 27 years old. You were drafted but not high. You had solid minor league numbers but not spectacular. You've been a professional hockey player for 6-7 yrs and you've played 10-30 games in the NHL. A decent pro career. But, you still have the dream of being a regular and not a spare part. Your goal this year is to be around when training camp ends and play in the 1st game of the regular season. Thats your long term goal. Your short term goal is to go into the locker room the each day and still have your equipment hanging up. You may have been fortunate to sign a contract in the early part of the summer so you knew where to book your flight for training camp. More than likely you signed later in the summer and spent most of your time off stressing out where (or if) you were attending camp. You've worked your tail off and you are in the best shape of your life. You talked to your agent and he told you there is 1-2 spots on the team up for grabs. "So you're saying there's a chance!!" You are just getting ready to head to camp and you check the hockey transactions and find out the team just signed another NHLer (1 spot left). And here is the kicker.....competing for that 1 spot (most of the time its 0 spots - but you have to think there is one available) are all the guys you played with in the minors last year. The guys you went to war with, the guys you rode 12 hour bus rides with, the guys you shared beer with on those rides , the guys you kept in touch with all summer to see if they heard anything new about the team "did anyone get traded? hurt? suspended? retire?, rehab?" You get to do battle with them for the last spot on the team. What's even better is when you get right to the end of training camp and all the vets are in their homes with their families and there is still one spot open and you are one of the last 2 guys left.......guess who your roommate is in the hotel?
I will say this....if you can hang around long enough sometimes you can be in the right place at the right time. Ex. I was at Columbus' camp and managed to dodge a few bullets. I think there was only 2 of us left....me and a young draft pick who needed to sign a contract in the next day or he had to go back to junior. Guess what...he didn't sign....he asked for too much.....went back to junior and yours truly was in the opening night lineup. An example of how things can go the other way: I was in Pittsburgh and camp was pretty much over and the team was taking shape. It looked as if I had solidified a spot in the lineup. I walk in one morning to find out we had picked up 2 forwards off of waivers....Houston Aeros here I come!! What can you do!!
To get back on point, when I was reading Chris' blog and he was talking about "going to camp to get your timing back" I had to chuckle.......the journeyman would be getting his timing back in Iowa - depth guys have to hit the ground running or it will be a short camp for us. I was a healthy scratch in an intersquad game at a Boston Bruin training camp.......how's that for your confidence?
I'm going to stop right there......I just ran out of PBR and the creative juices just aren't flowing anymoe.
This is officially the most I've typed since I had someone type an essay for me in summer school at University (Mr. Schoop.. You're in this class too?).
Ideally I'd like to post a blog weekly on various topics that are timely, however, it may be more like monthly. If someone has any questions or a topic for discussion send it in with Attention: Journeyman and I'll do my best to discuss before the season is finished. Just so you know I will not name names (unless compensated)
Thanks for your patience