By @StefanKubus –
The Red Wings kicked off Day 1 of their annual Development Camp in Traverse City on Friday.
The Wings’ prospects were thrown right into the thick of things, with a full morning of video, an off-ice warm-up, on-ice practice before wrapping up with on-ice skill work.
For many, they’ve been here before and are looking to take the next step.
For others, like 2017 first-round pick Michael Rasmussen, it’s their first time.
“It was awesome, it was a fast pace out there, lots of fast guys, so they’re preaching pace and playing fast, so I like to play that way and everyone here likes to play that way, so it’s cool,” Rasmussen said.
While the players certainly hope to make a good first (or second) impression, the Wings’ brass involved on ice said it’s certainly not an evaluation camp, but rather an opportunity for the prospects to learn how to be a professional.
“This camp’s an educational camp, it’s not an evaluation.,” Grand Rapids head coach and development camp head Todd Nelson said. “We’re here to obviously look at the prospects, the people that we drafted, but it’s more or less an education for the players to get accustomed to pro life and set them up for success in the future.”
Red Wings director of player development Shawn Horcoff, a Michigan State alum, echoed what Nelson said.
“I think the focus is it’s a teaching process. Of course you’re kind of evaluation every day because you’re looking and watching, but that’s not the main focus. We worked long and hard on trying to figure out every aspect it takes to be a good pro. That’s gonna be from nutrition, that’s gonna be from social media, how they deal with social media and media in general, habits on and off the ice. Not just systems or what it takes defensemen to be good or what it takes for a forward to be good. When I first started, it wasn’t really like that. Nowadays, everybody’s got a trainer, everybody’s got a nutritionist. To be elite, you have to treat your body elite. I think a lot of these young guys aren’t used to that and we’re just trying to expose it to them as quick as we can.
“I thought the guys came out with a great effort; they were sharp, focused, and I was happy with it.”
Horcoff and Nelson both said they liked seeing not only some of the size out on the ice, but how well that size could move, too.
Rasmussen, certainly one of the bigger players at 6-foot-6, said he’s embracing the opportunity to soak up as much knowledge as he can.
“That’s exactly what it is, they kind of had a meeting before practice there and said that exact thing; it’s about learning, it’s about getting better here, so that’s what I’m gonna do and that’s what everyone here is gonna do.”
Goaltender Keith Petruzzelli didn’t have to travel far to get to development camp. Petruzzelli,, the Wings’ third-round pick in 2017, tended goal for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL prior to being drafted.
“It’s awesome, a lot of great support from the people out in Michigan, the Muskegon community, my billets and just the people associated with the Lumberjacks, so it’s awesome how much support I’ve been given and I’m really looking forward to being out in Michigan again,” Petruzzelli said.
Petruzzelli is heading to Qunnipiac University in the fall to begin his collegiate career and said there’s plenty of work to do before joining the pro ranks – a message that holds true for all the Wings’ prospects in Traverse City this week.
“It’s a great goal and a lot of work to do in the meantime, but really looking forward to it.”
Nelson interviewed with Arizona
The Griffins are fresh off a Calder Cup win and their head coach isn’t going anywhere just yet.
Nelson met with the Arizona Coyotes organization about their head coaching position and said the meeting went “very well,” but the Coyotes have yet to make any official decision. Arizona is reportedly leaning toward former Coyotes player Rick Tocchet, who just won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh as an assistant coach.
“I work in a very good place, I work with fantastic people, I work for a great organization and I haven’t had time to really enjoy what we accomplished,” Nelson said. “That’ll happen after these four days, but we’re very proud of what we accomplished there and now it’s a starting phase of getting back into it and building a team for next year.”