The Detroit Red Wings’ prospects have had a significant amount of unstructured time on their hands over the past six months. That’s a big concern for the Red Wings organization, as the Free Press’s Helene St. James writes this morning (in a subscriber-only article).
St. James spoke with Wings coach Jeff Blashill regarding the top prospects’ lack of structure, including the Wings’ usual summer development camp and fall prospect tournament:
I know players have found ways to work out and skate where they can, and some of the younger guys are with teams in Europe, but what’s the level of concern that most have been away from a team-structured environment for so long?
“I look at this as there are two sides: One is the negative side of the fact that we’ve been off for a longer period of time in terms of formal skates than any of these players will have ever experienced. There’s a concern there — you lose timing. But all of our players have found a way to get on the ice somehow, even if it’s meant going to different locations. I know guys have been skating individually, but that’s not necessarily the same you do as a hockey team. So there is concern for that, and we are behind the eight-ball considering we are one of the teams that wasn’t able to get together this summer. That’s why I’m hoping we’ll be able to get some skating in ahead of camp to make up for that.
“Now, the other side is the positive: We have a number of young players, and one of the things that is a barrier for young players to have success in the NHL is that their bodies just aren’t as physically mature as the men they’re going up against because they’re younger. So they have had the opportunity to get their body to a spot of physical maturity closer to those men that they play against on a day-to-day basis. A young player having six months in the weight room normally doesn’t happen. Now, the supervision is different than in a normal year where you have more contact with them, so it’s really about guys having inner drive — which guys found a way to use whatever weights were available to them, whatever they could use to train and maximize their bodies. I think inner drive will really show during this stretch and I hope that our guys had the opportunity to strengthen their bodies.”
St. James also discussed the Red Wings’ main roster with Blashill, who’s spoken to every player via Zoom calls, and she asks Blashill if there’s any clarity as to when the 2020-2021 season might start:
“There’s almost so much unknown that we’ve tried not to speculate. In terms of the planning, we have an idea of how long training camp would be, we have an idea of the number of exhibition games. I’m not saying we know, but we have an idea. We think we’re looking at about a two-week training camp rather than traditional three-week training camp. But we have no idea what the American league is going to look like, we have no idea what our schedule will look like, we have no idea on any of that. So rather than speculate, we’ve waited to see what the next day brings.”