NHL players and coaches have less than a week of training camp before the regular season starts on Saturday. It’s unfamiliar territory for them—but not for Terry Ruskowski.
Ruskowski, who served as the Blackhawks captain from 1979-1982, is a longtime minor-league head coach, now in his first season with the Quad City Mallards of the Central Hockey League. CHL teams usually have preseason games four days after the first day of training camp, but because of franchise issues, Ruskowski and the Mallards had less than a week of practices before their opener. He imparted some gathered wisdom:
TERRY RUSKOWSKI: “They know who’s going to be playing up there, so my advice to them is to go right down to your systems right away, and work your systems but also work your players to make sure they’re in good shape at the same time when you’re doing your systems to make sure they skate and to make sure they’re in pretty good shape to play. That’s going to be a key, I think the teams that are in the best shape will be at a huge advantage at the start of the season.”
2. Don’t waste time
TR: “Every second is going to be important for these coaches to make sure they get the best out of the players in the amount of time they have. Before practice, tell them what the drills are so they don’t have to spend time on the ice showing them the drills on a board. When they go out there they can go right at it. Right now is crucial.”
3. Self scout
TR: “My personal feeling is, if it was me, I would tape the practice and the drills and the systems, and show them on tape just what they did in practice and correct them before they get to the games. They would be more knowledgeable in what they’re doing, even though they can’t go to games, they’ve got to go to video of practices and go over what they did system-wise and show them what they did right and wrong.”