Colorado Avalanche Short Training Camp: Is it Significant?


The Colorado Avalanche have a very short training camp. Can this impact the start to their season?

The Colorado Avalanche are masters at keeping their training camp details secret. However, rookie camp is basically concluded, and the veterans who are participating in the World Cup of Hockey have already reported for captain’s practice.

That said, the Avalanche veterans don’t officially report for physicals until Thursday, according to the Denver Post. Training camp proper opens Friday and runs for two days, culminating in the Burgundy and White scrimmage on Sunday.

Two days. When I first read that, I was amazed. Back in the day, training camp went on for weeks. Even in recent years, though, training camp goes at least three days, sometimes four.

Here is the schedule, per the Avalanche website:

Thursday, Sept. 22

Friday, Sept. 23
Family Sports Center
Training Camp
First Session: 8:45-10:15 a.m.
Second Session: 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 24
Family Sports Center
Training Camp
First Session: 8:45-10:15 a.m.
Second Session: 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m

I realize that the season is weird this year because of the World Cup of Hockey. Most of the best players — those who didn’t find a way to bow out — are participating in these exhibition games in Toronto. Colorado alone has six players representing.

Now, as reported earlier, it’s possible a couple of those players might return for part of training camp or at least Sunday’s game. At the time of writing, the best possibilities were defenseman Erik Johnson (Team USA) and Semyon Varlamov (Team Russia).

In any case, this scheduling is somewhat consistent. The Dallas Stars are running almost the exact same kind of training camp schedule, culminating in a Sunday intra-squad scrimmage. The Chicago Blackhawks are holding a spectacle on Saturday, while the Minnesota Wild are only opening one day to the public because, you know, both are annoying. (The Ottawa Senators are holding a Fan Fest on Saturday, too, but they’re Canadian.)

Interestingly, some of the Eastern Conference teams are holding three days of training camp. For example, the Buffalo Sabres’ Sunday camp is similar to what the Avalanche’s third camp day has been like — practices culminating in scrimmages.

Anyway, never mind what other teams are doing. An abbreviated training camp can have a significant impact on the Colorado Avalanche this season. The team is currently in a mid-stride culture shift, with new coaching, new staff, new systems and new ideology coming into play this season.

In other words, it seems to me the team could have benefited from an extra day or two of practice before the preseason starts on Tuesday, September 27 vs the Minnesota Wild.

I’m not sure if there’s something in the CBA that states players can’t report to camp before Thursday, September 29. Anyway, as stated above, most of the veterans are already participating in on-ice practices.

I’m also not suggesting the team should have done away with the annual Burgundy and White game. (To be honest, I rather thought they would.) The popular scrimmage is a concession to Colorado Avalanche fandom.

Perhaps holding captain’s practices while waiting for its core to return from the World Cup is the best the team could manage under the circumstances. Indeed, according to assistant GM Craig Biilington — who seems to be taking a more active role despite this summer’s debacle with Dean Chynoweth, who was under his purview — almost all the members of the rookie/prospects squad are participating in the camp proper. But’s that’s mostly so their drill rotation works.

Next: Bigras' Probable Role with the Avs

In any case, is the shortened camp going to negatively impact the team’s start? I’d say yes and no. Probably the preseason games are going to be even more meaningless than usual. Also, it will be hard for all the players to learn the new systems in time for the start of the new season.

However, I predict the Colorado Avalanche will be playing under the adrenaline of having a new coach for at least the first couple weeks. I really expect the team will have a strong start.

Come November, though, once the novelty has worn off — that’s when we’ll see this team’s mettle in relation to new coaching, new systems and new vision.