Monday, May 28, 2007

Smaller Training Camp

From the Times:

The way general manager Jay Feaster explained it, training camp is going to be about dollars and sense.

Only 26 players will be invited to camp, set to begin Sept. 13 at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon - 28 fewer than last season.

Feaster said the plan, which could be tweaked depending on free-agent signings, will allow more intense and targeted training and be a warning to left-out minor-leaguers he believes have underperformed.

But he said lower housing, travel and food costs will help justify a $44-million payroll okayed last week by owner Bill Davidson.

"We're trying to be as responsible, as reasonable, as prudent as we can be in all areas of the operation, " Feaster said Saturday. "We're showing Mr. D that on our part, we're trying to funnel it all into player payroll as well."

Feaster said that is why the team decided not to have a summer rookie conditioning camp. It will return in September to an eight-team rookie camp in Traverse City, Mich., only because it already is committed.

Feaster said fewer players in the NHL camp, and working with so many who know the system and what is expected, will quicken the pace. He said he is not worried about forfeiting looks at players in the system.

"We don't have a lot of guys right now who deserve an opportunity to come into an NHL training camp, " Feaster said. "From now on, we don't think you can coast through an American Hockey League season. I'm tired of guys treating an American League season as if it doesn't matter. We always said it's a reward to be invited to an NHL camp. That's going to be real obvious to people this fall."

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