July 3, 2013
As members of the University of Michigan ice hockey team participate in different NHL developmental camps and other activities during the summer, the student-athletes will blog about their experiences. Currently, Mac Bennett -- captain of the 2013-14 Wolverines -- is skating at the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp in Brossard, Quebec.
Hello from Brossard!
I'll be representing the Maize and Blue for the next few days at the Montreal Canadians Development Camp, being held at their training facility in Brossard, Quebec (outside of Montreal). This is my fourth development camp since being drafted by the organization in 2009. Here's what my past few days have looked like:
Yesterday, I flew out from Rhode Island to Philadelphia so I could catch a connection to Montreal. I usually hate traveling, but the trip was pretty smooth. I arrived on time into Montreal at about 7:20 p.m. I took a shuttle to the hotel where I was able to meet up with former teammate and current Hamilton Bulldog (Montreal's farm team) defenseman Greg Pateryn. We were able to get a quick bite to eat before we had to make it in by the 11 p.m. curfew.
Today, I started my day at 6:45 a.m. I'm not a morning person so waking up this early was a bit of a struggle. We took a shuttle from the hotel over to the practice facility, which could be hockey heaven (outside of Yost). The Habs practice facility is a state-of-the-art, two-rink facility, which has everything a hockey player could ever ask for. The Canadiens' private section of the building has a weight room, lounge, dry and wet stalls, dining area, video room ... basically everything.
I got over to the rink and ate a quick breakfast before our group of about 50 prospects was split into two. My group had to do height, weight, body fat, as well as a Functional Movement Screening, which basically measures how injury prone we are. I had promised the player development coach, Patrice Brisebois, that I'd weigh 195 pounds when I arrived at camp, so I was pumped when I stepped on the scale and saw 195.0. After this, we had to fill out a questionnaire regarding our past injuries. Most of my information from past years was already in their system, but I did have to update some things here and there. We then had some time to get fitted for equipment that we'd be wearing for the camp. I'm wearing pretty much Bauer gear that they let me borrow for the duration of the camp, and while it isn't the Maize and Blue, donning the "Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge" (the colors of the Canadiens) is pretty sweet.
Once our hockey equipment was sorted out, we had time for a quick lunch before heading to the hospital to get cleared to participate. It was basically test after test after test. I got my eyes tested, screened for concussions, bones and ligaments checked by orthopedic doctors, blood pressure done. Pretty much anything that I could get physically tested for got tested. While my group was getting tested, the other group was over at the Bell Centre (the home of the Canadiens) getting a walkthrough of the building and learning about the team's history. So when we finished our physicals, we switched with that group.
Since I have been coming to camp, pretty much all of my time has been spent at the practice facility in Brossard. The only other time I have seen the Bell Centre was when I attended the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Even then I didn't really get to see much of the building as I was either in a state of panic waiting for my name to be called -- or being rushed around after being picked. Today gave me the opportunity to see a little bit more of the building ... and it is breathtaking.
The Canadiens are an organization that is rich in history. The Habs have been around for over a century. Hockey artifacts line the halls of the Bell Centre from former great players like Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, Doug Harvey, Guy Lafleur, Henri Richard, Bob Gainey, Patrick Roy, etc. It is amazing to see how many hockey legends have called Montreal home at some point or another.
I understand someone named Red Berenson even played for them at one point.
These great players have laid the foundations for even greater teams. Over the course of Montreal's 104-year existence, they have managed to play in the Stanley Cup finals 34 times. Of those 34, the Canadiens have won the cup 24 times. They have more Stanley Cups than any other team in the NHL. Winning is a legacy in Montreal.
After touring the rink, we had a session with the Canadiens PR guy about how to interact with members of the media. Some of the tips he gave us will be very useful. The Canadiens are THE sport to watch in Montreal. The media scrutinize every move the organization makes. It is in everyone's best interest to say the right things when asked a question.
Following the media session we were able to have dinner at the rink. I was able to dig in on some prime rib, chicken, and pasta before indulging in a slice of cheesecake. I sat with other NCAA players who have either been drafted by the Canadiens or are here on a tryout.
Then we hopped on a bus and headed back to the hotel, and that is where I am currently writing this blog. Tomorrow I have a 5:45 a.m. wake-up call allowing us to start the day with some physical testing, followed by ice time, workouts, and information sessions. I'll be sure to check back tomorrow to give an update on how everything is going.