Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates Training Camp — Day 1

Note: I’m truly sorry about the delay in getting anything up from the first day of the training camp. It was certainly a weird day for sure. I thought I was going to have some sort of internet access, but it didn’t happen…. No worries, we’ll try again tomorrow. I figured that I would just write when I arrived home, but when I walked into my house I was without power due to the local power company replacing a transformer.

Who Knew??

Again, I am very sorry for the delay.

Portland, ME – The first day of training camp turned out to be less than an eventful day as only 13 players were on the ice for the official start of the Portland Pirates training camp, but that doesn’t mean the Pirates coaching staff didn’t lay out a plan to get something accomplished at the Portland Ice Arena.

On hand were former captain Tyler Bouck and Jimmy Bonneau, who both cleared waivers yesterday as well as Colton Fretter, Colin Murphy, Felix Schutz, Derek Whitmore, Josh Vatri (tryout basis) and defensemen Paul Baier (tryout basis), Mike Card, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Mike Kostka. Also on the ice were goaltenders Adam Dennis and Jhonas Enroth.

Many of the players hadn’t skated in three days so the first item of business was to get the blood flowing back in the legs. A few looked a little red in the face, but for the most part, they showed a lot of jump and exuberance.

Because of the low number of players to begin camp, Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen worked on special teams with emphasis on the penalty kill.

One thing that is apparently evident from just the first day is how the players instantly show a high level of respect toward Dineen. When he was speaking or just pointing to a certain drill, the players soaked up his knowledge like a sponge.

It’s why he’s able to get the most out of his team and the Pirates have made the Eastern Conference Finals in two of the last three seasons. Yes, the talent was there, but when a team is willing to go to war because they believe and respect their coach, as the players believe in Dineen, that’s only beneficial to the Pirates and Sabres as the year moves forward.

Another item that evident, although trivial, was the absence of the black and gold warm-up suits in favor of the Sabres blue and gold. It did take a moment to get adjusted, but not too long.

Speaking of the black and gold of the Anaheim Ducks, after three years of Anaheim in Portland, it’s easy to notice that there will be changes in philosophy compared with the Sabres. Anaheim tended to focus more on the north-south offensive type system that rely on the three forwards as a unit. In the Sabres system, they believe in the same north-south philosophy, but work more as five-man unit, which should benefit the Pirates this season.

“There are some little things here and there,” said Dineen referring to the differences between Anaheim and Buffalo. “Some strategic ideas that different people use and you can get comfortable with one situation, but the trick is not being at the bottom of the learning curve, but staying ahead of the learning curve.”

Dineen went on further comment that sometimes it’s not just changes in personnel, but also a change in philosophy of the team when one may witness the most improvement.

The Pirates will return to the ice tomorrow for day two of training camp. It’s not expected that Buffalo will send anybody down until after tonight’s game in Columbus so the Pirates could see another infusion of bodies on Saturday.

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