Unfortunately, I did not keep my word in sending in an update after Day 1 of Wild Training Camp, and for that I do apologize. I will admit that it was quite an experience in St. Paul for my first NHL training camp. The first 2 days of camp were similar in schedule, but still quite hectic due to there being two separate groups following their assigned regiment. Needless to say, that pretty much eliminated any downtime in the athletic training room for our medical staff. The set-up at the Xcel Energy Center is extremely nice and convenient for both the players and athletic trainers. Travis Green, assistant athletic trainer/massage therapist, recently was built an addition to the athletic training room, specifically for massage therapy with the needed space and privacy to work comfortably. The doctors’ examination rooms are located just a few steps across the hall, equipped with x-ray machine and all of the necessities for the Wild physicians to perform there duties while still being in ear-shot of the athletic training staff. There is an in-ground warm whirlpool and side-by-side individual cold tubs located inside the athletic training room for easy access during treatments or recovery from workouts. With giving you just a few details, the Wild players are very fortunate to have such great facilities and medical support staff in Donnie Fuller, John Worley, and Travis Green at their disposal on a daily basis.
One of the most exciting parts of working training camp is that John Worley and I were responsible for on-ice coverage of practices and scrimmages. This was a great experience and it also allowed Donnie and Travis to be accessible to the players working out or just coming off the ice after practice that may need some sort of medical attention. It was difficult at first trying to sort out each individual player, some of whom we had only seen for a few minutes during physicals on Saturday morning, but eventually it was like clockwork. I would like to say that practices would not be as much fun if it weren’t for Lance Voight. Lance serves as locker room attendant during the regular season and playoffs, but is definitely an integral part of the Minnesota Wild equipment staff during training camp as well. Lance is quick with the one-liners to keep you on your toes, but mostly keeps things light when practices can be somewhat monotonous. Although, with Todd Richards at the helm in Minnesota, I don’t foresee there being many slow paced moments on and off the ice, given his enthusiasm for the game and continuing desire to improve this Wild team.
So now for the part I’ve always wanted to take-in first hand, NHL travel. I had heard many different stories about charter flying with a professional sports team, but I was extremely excited when I was allowed to fly to St. Louis to work the Wild’s first pre-season exhibition game! Once I took the first step on-board the plane, I knew that it was going to be a comfortable trip. All first class seating, with all the extras that aren’t standard issue in a typical first class flying experience. There were different food options such as salads, sandwiches, and most importantly SUSHI! I had to get some reassurance from Head Equipment Manager, Tony DaCosta, that it was okay for someone of my ‘rookie’ status to enjoy the accommodations just like everyone else. So as we were settled in, there was another gratuitous meal offer (that I declined), but when the flight attendants came around with fresh baked cookies and milk, I followed form of those ahead of me and indulged. The short hour and a half flight was refreshing before heading into Scottrade Center for a 7:05PM game. Worls and Travis knew the setup of the arena very well, so it was a smooth transition into our room and we were operational rather quickly. Being the young buck on the staff, I did not expect to work the bench at all during the game, but to my surprise the guys let me work the 1st and 3rd periods on one end of the bench. Even with it being an exhibition game, the excitement of the opportunity was just as high as I expected. Although we didn’t win the game, I still had a great experience and realized where I want to end up in regards to my career in hockey, the National Hockey League. As we arrived back into Minneapolis after the game, my focus had already shifted from working and enjoying camp with the Wild to preparing to open training camp in Houston on September 21st. With the arrival of our flight from MSP into Bush Intercontinental at 10:00AM this morning, the grind had already started with the ringing and beeping of the blackberry phones, loaded with emails and voicemails of things needing to be accomplished.
I want to thank the entire Minnesota Wild office and hockey ops staff for making my experience with the Wild during the past two weeks something that I enjoyed greatly. Tony DaCosta, Brent Proulx, Matt Benz, Donnie Fuller, John Worley, Travis Green: Thanks to you guys for allowing me to be apart of something that not many people in the world get to experience.
A big thanks goes out to Joe O’Donnell, Robert Desimone, and Palmer Hestley here in Houston for making this blog possible. I’m looking forward to a packed house for the Aeros exhibition game against the San Antonio Rampage on September 26th at 6:05PM in Sugar Land!
I’m sure by now most of you know that the Wild prospects team came up short in the championship game against the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1. Everyone wants to be the champion, but let me tell you that 2nd place is nothing to be ashamed of in this situation. I enjoyed being able to work with the future of the Minnesota Wild and experience the Traverse City, MI tournament.
Just to give you a different perspective of how long our days can be I’ll give you a timeline from start to finish of my Friday, September 11th, 2009.
4:00-4:25 AM EST Wake-up call from the staff at Bayshore Resort plus MULTIPLE alarms set on my blackberry phones to get me up and moving.
5:00AM EST– Team bus departs to Traverse City – Cherry Capitol Airport
6:35AM EST– Flight from TVC to MSP (Minneapolis/Saint Paul)
6:45AM CST – Arrival into MSP then bus to Team Hotel
7:25AM – Arrival at Team Hotel – Check-in
8:00AM – This is the moment I start to freak out because I fear that I have lost/left my driver’s license between the security checkpoint in Traverse City, MI, our Delta/Northwest plane, and arriving into Minneapolis/Saint Paul Airport.
So yes, I do realize how ridiculous of a situation I have now put myself in by losing this all-important form of identification. Luckily, I have a passport and carry it with me whenever I travel.
10:00AM – I order my replacement driver’s license, answer some emails, and most importantly send my Mom flower’s for her birthday. (I know that I would never have been able to get where I am today without the sacrifices that my parents made in order for me to be successful. For this I am so very grateful to have them in my life.)
10:30AM – Go to Xcel Energy Center to meet up with Head Athletic Therapist Donnie Fuller, Asst. Athletic Trainer John Worley, and Asst. Athletic Trainer/Massage Therapist Travis Green to prepare for team physicals and coverage of all practices/scrimmages for training camp.
This was also my first opportunity to see most of the Wild players skating/working out at the Xcel, preparing for the opening practice of camp on Sunday, September 13th. It was good to get to see some of the guys who have played in Houston that have found a home with the Wild on a more permanent basis.
12:30PM – Go to TRIA Orthopaedic Center to drop off more documents to the amazing sports medicine staff that assists the Wild with any/all of their medical needs. This complex is one of the finest sports medicine and orthopaedic centers that I have ever seen, very state-of-the-art and efficient in its design.
1:00-4:00PM – More preparation of the Athletic Training room and supplies for camp. Mix in a few player rehab sessions and treatments, and you have quite the busy afternoon.
5:30PM – After grabbing a quick bite to eat, (still no nap/sleep), I meet up with Benzy and Doug at the Xcel to help them unload the equipment truck that is just getting back to Saint Paul from Traverse City.
7:30PM – Finally done for the day, a quick shower and change of clothes, then off to the Mall of America to just get away from work and relax for a little while. Thanks to Troy G. Ward for being the taxicab for Doug, Rosey (Mark LeRose), and myself.
I finally broke down at the mall and bought a 32GB Apple iTouch, with all the bells and whistles. I’m finally in the same league as Benzy and Troy when it comes to apple technology.
10:00PM - Back at the hotel, organizing our “hockey ops” outfits for physicals and deciding what shirt/tie combination to wear with my suit for the headshot photos after physicals. Oh and I did have to spend time playing with the new gadget and downloading more tunes. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about the release of Benzy’s Beats itouch playlist…there is a distinct chance that New Kids on the Block will make an appearance! That pretty much sums up my day…EXHAUSTED.
5:15AM – Wake up call
6:45AM – Team Physicals will be underway at TRIA.
Yes, it was another early start for the medical staff of the Wild, but this day could very well be one of the most important days of the entire season.
Physicals went exceptionally smooth, accommodating all of the 55 training camp attendees and coaching staff. Once we got back to the Xcel, Worls (John Worley, Asst. Athletic Trainer) and I prepared our bench bags and hip packs for the upcoming practices and scrimmages over the course of the next few days. We will be primarily responsible for the on-ice coverage in camp, while Donnie and Travis tend to all of the athletic training room treatments and massage therapy appointments. We hope to be a well-oiled machine in making this Minnesota Wild training camp one of the best in the Wild’s history.
With player treatments finished and paperwork updated (to some degree), most of the equipment staff and medical staff hit the weight room and/or cardio equipment for a workout before the team dinner. Yes, I did workout and get a much needed energy boost to finish out the day.
The team dinner at the “X” (Xcel Energy Center) was on the club level with quite an impressive spread of food for the boys. Chuck Fletcher, GM and Todd Richards, Head Coach gave great opening remarks on the expectations for everyone in this 2009 Wild Training Camp. I believe that this year has tremendous potential for the Minnesota Wild, and also the Houston Aeros with all of the talent that has been brought in for camp.
Tomorrow is the start of something that I’ve been waiting to experience for over 13 years, NHL Training Camp. It will start with a equipment/medical staff workout at 7:00AM to get everyone energized and ready for a fun, but demanding training camp schedule. So I will sign off for now, but will be sure to send in an update after Day 1 of Wild camp is in the books.
Sept. 10 Well, it’s the final day of the Traverse City NHL prospects tournament, and for the Wild, it means a chance to play in the championship game at 6:30 PM against the Carolina Hurricanes!
I do apologize for not having an update sooner, but with the 6:30 start last night we did not get finished at the rink and back to the hotel until late. The St. Louisgame was an amazing game, well for the Wild, we would probably claim that the 3rd period was the only note-worthy part of regulation. The boys battled strong but fell victim to consecutive penalties, which made for a long 1st and 2nd periods. The start of the 3rd period did not start off particularly well for the Wild as they surrendered a power play goal 10 seconds after the drop of the puck. That would be the end of the St. Louis offensive and the resurgence of the Minnesota Wild. Just as the Aeros did numerous times last season against the Peoria Rivermen, a 3rd period, 3-goal comeback was underway, with the tying goal being scored with the extra-attacker with only 2.7 seconds left!! After all of the excitement and hype, the shoot-out was not as much fun, as we failed to score even one goal. The extra point from taking the game to overtime was enough to push us into the finals.
I knew that I would get to see some old friends and colleagues here in Traverse City, but I wasn’t expecting to see some of the NHL’s former superstars while we were here. So far I’ve had the opportunity to meet Mark Messier, Ed Belfour, and Steve Yzerman. It is pretty cool getting to meet these players that I grew up watching on TV.
The morning skate today was the usual, short and sweet, just like we always want them. The team headed back to the hotel for lunch and a nap, while Benzy, Doug, and I had to run a few errands around town before hitting up Ham Bonz one last time before we leave TC tomorrow. Tonight and tomorrow will be long days for Doug and Benzy as they have to sort thru all of the player gear tonight after the game, load the truck, and then pack their own personal belongings. They will start the drive back to Saint Paul at 5:45 AM to make the ferry for 8:00AM, and then make drive another 5 hours from the ferry to the Xcel Energy Center. I am a little more fortunate and will be taking the 6:30 AM flight from Traverse City direct into Saint Paul, arriving a little after 7:00AM.
Needless to say, sleep will be a valued commodity for all of us the next few days before Wild camp opens up on the 13th of this month.
Well, there are a few more things to get ready here at the Center Ice Arena in preparation for our championship game at 6:30 tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. So this is where I will leave everyone for now, hopefully I will be getting an update out after the game tonight, but no promises.
I want to close out by sending a shout out to a good friend of mine, Mr. Rick Bronwell, now with the San Jose Sharks, who seems to be playing the big-wheel card and not returning any phone calls. (I know he’s busy with camp around the corner, but seriously…)
Today’s blog will be short and sweet since the Wild only had an hour-long practice session this morning at Center Ice. We did enjoy the extra hour of sleep this morning, although I think it may have just made Doug, Benzy, and I more sluggish than the previous few days. Tomorrow will be more like a true game day since we don’t skate till around 10:30 and play one of the last games at 6:30 PM versus the St. Louis Blues.
There was a small adventure for our equipment/medical staff today, thanks to Benzy and his desire to find some mythical t-shirt. Short intro to this story, there apparently is a Benzie (spelling may be different) County near Traverse City that Matt and Doug passed through on the drive in from Saint Paul. We made a few pit stops around town today looking for the best_case scenario to find Benzy his vintage collectible. The chances were slim to none, and slim had already left town. Sorry Buddy! I did however snag a pretty sick Masters green golf bag strap cover. It’s something that you would see the caddies who wear the white jumpsuits and prestigious green caddy hats in Augusta, GA. Cheesy, but pretty solid of a deal for only 2 bucks!!
I did get some photos from one of the gracious photographers here in Traverse City, but hopefully can get some action shots of the final two games to send in for the website. A quiet night is planned here in TC as Doug, Benzy, and I are gonna go for dinner then have a meeting with Troy G. Ward, Asst. G.M/Coach for the Aeros. Until next time…
Good Evening from B-E-A-utiful Traverse City! Today was another great day for the Minnesota Wild prospects here at the tournament. It was nice having some form of a routine to go by since we had the identical practice and game schedule on Sunday.
My body doesn’t seem to be adjusting very quickly to the eastern time zone, as when I wake up after a good night’s sleep, I’m having to have a few extra cups of java to get jump started. The hotel here has a pretty solid macadamia nut blend coffee that has become a staple for starting my day off right. Doug seems to find the prune juice rather appealing for breakfast….I know he’s a salty veteran and all, but seriously didn’t think it was to that level.
Benzy, Doug, and I are working pretty smoothly together at this point of the trip, all of us play a part in having things set up for the boys before the morning skate and games. Benzy is still holding down the tunes for us on his itouch, which hasn’t faltered yet, except for the random New Kids on The Block song that popped up…sorry Benzy, had to let that little secret out. As for Doug, he could put his ipod on and never have a song repeat for a very long time, he has over 7,500 songs!! I don’t think anyone will find New Kids on The Block on Dougie’s ipod.
This morning was more of a typical pre-game skate for the boys, lasting around 45 minutes, just enough to break a sweat and tune in for the game. The really cool part about this tournament set up is that with 2 rinks going at once, you get a chance to see catch up with friends in the game that you may not see but once a year. One of my good friends, Patrick “Hoops” Houlihan, the head equipment manager for the Gwinnett Gladiators, is working with the Atlanta Thrashers. Even though we haven’t been around each other in over a year or more, we didn’t miss a beat in catching up on things. The hockey community is a pretty close knit group, which is another thing that I love about this job, and being in Traverse City just solidifies that point.
Today’s game against the Dallas Stars was quite the battle from the drop of the first puck, all the way to the final buzzer, and 5th shooter of the shoot-out! Today’s game was a little more penalty-filled as opposed to yesterday, but we ended regulation tied at 1. It took an amazing performance by Darcy Kuemper in net and the last shooter for the Wild in the shoot-out to clinch the 2-1 victory!
Tuesday is a practice day for all of the teams, with games resuming on Wednesday and the finals on Thursday. I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! More to come from this great experience here in Traverse City!
It’s Gameday in Traverse City!! At 6:00 AM this morning, I wasn’t THAT excited, but after a good breakfast at the hotel the day started getting better. The team has morning skate scheduled at 8:30 AM for today and tomorrow, since we get to play the first games of each day. Despite the early start time for the boys, the skate was short and sweet.
So if you read yesterday’s blog, you know about a little restaurant called Ham Bonz that Benzy (Minnesota’s Asst. Equipment Mgr, sorry I didn’t elaborate on that earlier) had talked SOOOO highly about, but crushed our hopes and dreams when it was closed after practice on Saturday. Let me just tell you that the wait was WELL worth it. I wasn’t shy in ordering one of the breakfast specials called “Hog Wild”. This glorious plate included potatoes, sausage, bacon and ham, topped with 3 eggs and cheese! In the words of Donny White, former asst equipment mgr with the Aeros and Mike Ermatinger, Head Athletic Trainer for the San Antonio Rampage, I chose to STAAYYYY HEAVVVVY! I couldn’t finish the breakfast, nor did I really find it to be the best option with a game to work today.
The game today against Columbus was everything I was hoping for and more. Despite starting off the game strong, we found ourselves down 1-0 to the relentless Blue Jackets. Both teams were not hesitant to get physical with each other at any possible opportunity. This was evident when defenseman Justin Falk, crushed one of the Blue Jackets’ forwards into the boards near the penalty box on my end of the Wild bench. Falk hit the guy and up-ended him causing the glass for the scorekeepers’ box to be shattered! Yes, it was one of those highlight reel moments that caught a lot of people off guard. Hopefully I will have some pictures for everyone tomorrow. This caused us to have to take an early 2nd intermission with 6 minutes left in the 2nd period. This break proved to be beneficial for the Wild, allowing us to regroup and take the game 2-1 despite fending off a late flurry by Columbus. Win #1 is officially in the books!
After the boys boarded the bus for the hotel with the first game in the books, Doug and I were privileged enough to jam to Benzy’s itouch while we set up the room for tomorrow’s practice. I hope to get an official tune list that doesn’t embarrass Benzy too much posted sometime before the end of prospect camp. We finally got back to the hotel and dropped off our laundry and jerseys to be washed, so our day is pretty much in the books, with the exception of relaxing and grabbing some dinner. Tomorrow is another early day, but as long as it ends in a Wild victory, it’s all good! Looking forward to receiving some emails with your questions about this NHL prospect camp and/or anything hockey related. Until next time…
Today is the day that signifies the official start to my 2009-10 hockey season.
My wake-up call accomplished its goal of waking me up at 6:30 EST…. The pleasant part of getting out of bed is seeing the beach that starts right outside my patio door and is about 25 feet from the water. It was such a great view to start the day. Breakfast for me was at 7:15 EST this morning, followed by team physicals here at the hotel.
Something that I have been looking forward to since summer started was getting back around the rink, having a few laughs (compliments of Doug and Benzy, those two are hilarious and make the job fun), and getting the first practice underway! Although we have never worked together, if you were a fly on the wall, you would think that Benzy, Doug, and I have been a staff that has been together for years. We departed for the Center ICE arena at 11:00, while the team was scheduled to leave at 12:30 for a 2:00 practice. I like to be at the rink with plenty of time to set-up and prepare before the coaching staff and players get into the locker room.
The team was in good spirits and anxious to get on the ice for the first session of the NHL prospects tournament weekend. I only had one person request my services before hitting the ice, and no it wasn’t any of the players, it was Head Coach Kevin Constantine. Jokingly, KC said he was putting me thru my first test of the season by doctoring up some blisters for him. No pressure at all.
After the team departed for the hotel, we finished cleaning up the room and headed to grab an overdue bite to eat. Since Benzy has been to Traverse City the last few years, we left the most important decision of the day up to him. He had the best of intentions in going to this local BBQ spot called Ham Bonz, but unfortunately it had already closed. We finally found a local spot that had an outdoor patio, which is clutch when the weather is so unbelievable.
This evening is reserved for two things, relaxing and watching college football! You know that I’m going to be watching the Crimson Tide from Alabama playing tonight against Virginia Tech. Roll Tide Roll!
Tomorrow is our first game-day of the tournament, practice at 8:30AM and a game against Columbus at 2:30PM. I can’t wait to see how the future of the Minnesota Wild stack up against the rest of these prospects here in Traverse City. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day weekend with family and friends!
Email Jody throughout the week with your questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello from Saint Paul, MN! Today was a very busy day indeed. All of the Wild’s prospects are in town and have attended several meetings throughout the day.
My day started around 6:30 AM with as you could guess, a big cup of java…I wouldn’t survive without it! Then my always-scheming partner in crime, Doug Tretiak, thought he might scare me by kicking the USA Today under the door and knocking on his way out to meet with Matt Benz. It was a nice idea, but a weak attempt on Doug’s part. To tell you that I am fortunate to be taking the flight with the team tonight is an understatement. Doug and Benzy had to drive the equipment truck from Saint Paul starting at 7AM to Traverse City, MI, with a nice little ferry ride in the middle. Those guys will have a long day for sure, but I’m sure they will find ways to pass the time.
This morning, we were greeted by Chuck Fletcher, GM and Todd Richards, Head Coach for the Wild in the first official gathering for the 2009 Wild Prospects Team. Everyone headed over to the Xcel Energy Center for a locker room tour (a stop by the player’s lounge for a double shot espresso for me) and video presentation that was geared to giving the prospects the “Wild” experience. My “Wild” locker room experience is always pleasant when there is on-demand espresso and coffee While the boys began their systems meetings with Coaches Kevin Constantine, Troy G. Ward, and Mark Lerose, I had a brief sit-down with Head Athletic Therapist with Don Fuller to discuss our “systems” and approach to Traverse City.
There was a nice lunch for the team in the Wild offices that did include a sweet little spread of ice cream, chocolate and caramel sauces, and cookies; Just in case you were wondering, I restricted myself to 1 cookie, although there were some members of the Hockey Ops staff that could spare to enjoy the full-service dessert bar.
After lunch, I took a walk around in Saint Paul just to enjoy the awesome weather and take a break from being inside. There are some older buildings around the Xcel Energy Center that have some pretty amazing architecture that you don’t always see everyday, so that was a plus to the walk around Saint Paul.
Well, this is where I will leave everyone for today, as I have to finish packing my bags and get ready to depart the hotel at 5:15PM for our team flight to Traverse City. Ready or not, the hockey season will be underway in less than 24 hours!!
Good morning Aeros fans!! Jody Green, head athletic trainer for the Houston Aeros coming to you from the road in Minnesota. With the help of Joe O’Donnell, Robert Desimone, Palmer Hestley, I will be giving you an inside look at my first NHL prospects tournament and NHL training camp with the Minnesota Wild. Along for the journey will be Doug Tretiak, our Head Equipment manager for the Aeros, a veteran in the equipment world, so I’m looking forward to some good stories and laughs from him this trip.
After a few cups of coffee and one for the road, Doug and I hit the freeway around 7:30AM this morning headed to IAH for our morning flight to Minnesota for our 2-week journey that includes the NHL prospects tournament in Traverse City, MI and Minnesota Wild training camp in St. Paul. Despite leaving during quite possibly the worst time of the morning to drive, the 45-mile trek across Houston only took us about an hour!! The arrival into IAH was smooth as always thanks to the help from our friends at The Parking Spot, a shuttle was waiting for us when we parked and in less than 5 minutes we were at the terminal. So far the trip is looking pretty solid, and it only gets better, Doug and I managed to get a nice little upgrade for our direct flight to St. Paul! I am one to enjoy the extra room and services of first class, but I know Doug (measuring in at 6’4”…) can truly appreciate the extended real estate.
There aren’t any scheduled plans for us today at the Xcel Energy Center, so today is pretty much reserved for emails and paperwork…..and probably dinner somewhere close to the hotel. Tomorrow should be a busy day with getting organized for Traverse City and placing orders for our training camp back home.