Antici…….pation

It’s more than a month to the start of the season.  And training camp is just under three weeks away.

Sigh.

It’s been such a loooooooooooooooong summer with the Sharks ousted from the playoffs in April.  That’s meant four (and counting) months of bombardment from pundits’ about the “playoff choker” Sharks one more time, and little news regarding new players added to the organization.

But just like the fans, the players are anticipating the upcoming season.  They are starting to pump their physical preparation for training camp and the season.

At captain’s skate, for instance.

What is that, you might ask?  An opportunity for the players (already) in town to get out on the ice, perhaps do some drills, shooting practice, or windsprints, plus some scrimmage (more like a spirited/fast game of shinny than a hard hitting game you’ll see in the regular season).  It’s an opportunity to get the eye/hand coordination readjusted, and work on the cardiovascular stamina required.  And have fun on the ice. (For a few local players, friends of players, or even teenaged sons of players, and some of the retired players, a chance to “play” with the NHLers. Some guys bring out their young kids before/after the scrimmage to enjoy some family time; amazing how some of the toughest guys have the biggest smiles for their kids.)  The Sharks also open up the skate and training facilities to former Shark players, and other NHLers who might be in the area as well.  So, while the majority of players on the ice will be wearing Shark white or teal jerseys, you might have a rainbow of other teams represented.

Not all Sharks players get their ice time in San Jose.  Some agents have camps in Montreal or Toronto.  But all will converge in San Jose before training camp.

(A note on the goalies, there are often 1-2 “pick up” goalies on the ice until the last week before camp to give the NHL goalies opportunities to take a breather, should they want it. These goalies participate in the local adult leagues, or may be alumni from San Jose State’s club hockey team. Helps them improve their game to face NHL shooters.)

Oh, and per CBA rules, no coach can be on the ice nor directing their on ice actions.  (So, if someone needs to blow a whistle or direction to do the drills, it’s coming from one of the players, or perhaps a helpful fan.)

Just one more harbinger of the upcoming season.

Drop the puck, already!


Anticipation
©2014 GJ Berg

The lights are half on.
The boards are empty,
The benches, empty,
The stands, empty,
The walkways clear.

Silence reigns.
Except for the small
Mechanical noises of
HVAC and
Contracting metal.

It is cold.
The metal bench
Leeching heat.
Open rink door
providing more.

Cold ice has a smell:
Damp,
Vaguely pungent,
Sweaty overtones,
With a hint of testosterone.

Anticipation. Waits.
Scoreboard clock
Slowly counts
The minutes
Of the hour.

Anticipation. Delays.
Clock silent,
Slow increase,
Minute by
Minute.

Anticipation. Duration.
Metal creaks.
Fog may rise
If humidity allows.
Minute increases.

Anticipation. Impatience.
Worry over
Cancellation,
Postponement.
Minute passes.

Anticipation. Release.
Lights blaze full.
Zamboni roars,
Lap after Lap.
Ice glistens, wet.

Anticipation. Grows.
Ice dulls, to dry.
Practice pucks
Endanger goals
Wait on the ice.

Handle turns,
Players emerge.
Greetings ensue.
Sticks grasped,
Dropped at bench.

Skate blades cut,
Ice becomes snow.
Grind.
Crunch.
Swosh, a shower.

Pucks demonstrate
Velocity, physics.
Thwack. Bang.
Thwack. Swish.
Thwack, thud.

Glove captures.
Blocker defends.
Stick thwarts.
Arm deflects.
But not all. Goal.

Greetings crescendo,
Last on the ice.
Scatological sarcasm
Replaces.
Down to business.

Stretches,
Silent,
But for
Verbal
Jibes.

Today perhaps
Begins with some
Drills.
Rote.
Familiar rhythms.

Next Scrimmage.
Jersey color
Defines team.
Linemates in season
Faceoff.

The guy loved
To play with
Now opposite.
Small dose of
Hate to play off.

Shifts advance.
Pucks lead
Play,
End to
End.

Flying changes.
Flying bodies.
Flying pucks.
Flying words.
Goal. Repeat.

Defender
Valiant
Prevents goal.
But skill
Nets one.

Score advances.
Shift of defending end.
Play continues
Until max
Score reached.

Some declare
Done.
Others move
To work on
Individual skills.

Windsprints.
Shooting precision
On the go.
Shooting from
The blue line.

Pucks
Laid out
Just so.
Handle in, over,
Around, between.

Work on
Acceleration
From stop.
First few steps
Could determine winner.

Really ambitious?
Battle drills
In the corner
Against the biggest
Guy on the ice.

Numbers dwindle.
Time nearly done.
Zamboni ready.
Pucks gathered.
Sticks retrieved.

Zamboni
Cleans evidence of
Hard work and
Effort.
Ice glistens.

One more day
Gone before camp.
One day closer
To season.
Lights half off.

Anticipation.
Drop
The
Puck
Already.

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