After the first two days at Development Camp in Minnesota, I was getting used to the busy routine the Wild staff had planned for us and was building stronger relationships with my teammates. Our morning strength training was followed by power skating and then a team practice, which was led by the Wild’s AHL affiliate (Houston Aeros) head coach.
|Retired sergeant major J.B. Spisso specializes in|
team-building exercises. (Photo: ESPN.com)
Because we were split up into four groups, J.B. made it into a competition as well. Each mission was timed, and my team ended up winning three of the four missions. Even though we spent at least three hours outside in the heat and ran close to five miles, I felt the best I had in a long time.
I (along with the rest of the guys) didn’t feel the exhaustion we usually would feel after that much physical activity. Instead, we all felt a sense of satisfaction that we were able to conquer the problems J.B. put in front of us and work so well together. It was a great exercise for us to complete, because after that day the bonds between all the players grew exponentially.
[Click to watch a video of Spisso's Elite Leadership Training in action at last year's Wild development camp.]
Thursday was my first game day at Xcel Energy Center wearing a Wild jersey. One awesome aspect of Minnesota’s camp was that most of the practices and both of the scrimmages were held at the home rink. After the workout and practice that morning, we had a few hours off that allowed us to start our pregame routines and get a good meal in before the game that night at 7 p.m.
|Adam Gilmour experienced the passion|
of Minnesota hockey fans firsthand last
week at the team's development camp.
We stepped onto the ice to the sight of 6,500 energetic Minnesota Wild fans who came to watch many players who may be the future of the Wild. The enthusiasm from the people made the atmosphere amazing. The most people I’ve ever played in front of is 1,000, so the game and experience was very memorable for me.
Unlike all the days before, which included a full schedule through dinner and beyond, Saturday was a little different. We had the morning workout and practice, and after that we did yoga as a cool down to stretch out the muscles we had been working so hard all week. After yoga, we had the choice to either go to the Minnesota Twins baseball game or the Mall of America.
I chose to go to the game, because I had never been to the Twins’ stadium. About 12 people went, including Louis Nanne, my linemate in the scrimmages and locker room neighbor. [Editor's Note: Louis is the grandson of former Minnesota North Stars GM Lou Nanne.] We had a good relationship from day one, being two of the youngest guys there and on the same team, and I left the camp having developed a strong friendship with him.
Sunday marked the last day of the camp. We headed to the rink for the second game of the week. Again, the fans were lining up at the arena long before the players arrived. The crowd numbered 7,500 on that Sunday morning, which was the highest level of attendance at a Development Camp scrimmage in the history of the Wild!
[Watch highlight's of Sunday's scrimmage:]
After the game the players each had exit meetings with some members of the Wild staff. In my meeting, we discussed how the week went and a few things I can do to improve. Although the camp was extremely demanding physically and mentally, the experience I had in meeting and playing with great players from all over the world and working with a coaching staff that knows so much about the sport I love was tremendous.
After playing in Minnesota for the first time, I now know why it’s called “The State of Hockey.” The fans are so incredibly passionate about their team, and that passion showed in their attendance, support and enthusiasm at our two games. It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to using what I learned to make myself a better player in the coming year.