The Flames annual development camp – currently being held at Winsport – sees prospects from all over the world battle it out in hopes of making a lasting impression on management.
It can be a high pressure situation but that’s why newly promoted Stockton Heat head coach Cail MacLean is here.
“My main role is to help them understand what we are asking of them and to help them bring out the skills that got them to this point,” he said. “It’s all about staying relaxed and simple things, like reminding them to breathe.
“Yes there are eyes on them every moment they are here but you can’t put your best foot forward if you are so concerned about that.”
Friday marked the first on-ice sessions for the prospects, after spending the Thursday fitness testing.
They’re back on the ice today before wrapping up Sunday with a scrimmage.
There’s been a sense of urgency to lace up the skates after some time away from hockey for the players, and as MacLean explained, the on-ice drills can be the most nerve wracking part of camp for them.
“Letting them know what we are looking for out of them is huge,” he said. “That way they don’t try and do too much or panic if they think they aren’t doing a good job.
“It falls onto everyone who is here to help out to make them feel comfortable on the ice and making sure things are being communicated.”
With it being early in July, there’s a bit of rust that the players have to shake off but there is an understanding throughout the staff that they aren’t going to be at their peak level.
Needless to say, though, the compete level remains high.
“They’ve worked really hard,” he said. “It’s mid-summer so you have to understand they might not be in the condition you would expect them to be at the end of summer.
“I think everyone has competed to their limits, their execution at times may look like mid-summer, but they are pushing through to give their all which I give credit to (them).”
With the camp providing a learning experience for the players attending, there was a priority in having them understand what’s involved in taking that next step.
“We try and keep a consistent message right from Bill Peters throughout the rest of the staff,” MacLean said. “You want to give these guys the idea of what the Flames are looking for in a hockey player.
“When you build consistency from the early stages of their careers, as they work through the system they know exactly what they need to give to wear the flaming C.”