Some Predators veterans start off camp on wrong foot

Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 4:08pm

Barry Trotz stepped off the ice at Centennial Sportsplex and headed right for the other side of the facility, where another group of Nashville Predators was about to take the ice on the first day of training camp.

The veteran head coach was not doing double duty. He actually sat out the second session  — but only after he delivered a message.

“One of the things I want from our veteran players is for them to set the standard,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with a lack of detail by veteran players [in the first group]. So I went and talked … to the second group about that.”

Following an offseason of cost-cutting — particularly at forward — it’s not as if there were a lot of proven players among the 15 skaters and two goalies in that session.

Forwards Martin Erat, Colin Wilson and Cal O’Reilly were in that group, as was defenseman Ryan Suter. Others such as defenseman Teemu Laakso and center Chris Mueller have spent time in Nashville but have not yet established themselves as NHL players. The rest including goalies Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard, were prospects.

“My expectations for a veteran player are a lot higher than for a junior player,” Trotz said. “So when I say that, [it’s] my expectations for what you’re capable of doing. I never say players can overachieve. They never can. Thy can just play to their ability and I want guys to play to their ability all the time. That means being on task.

“[Saturday] I didn’t like a couple guys. I’m not going at all the veterans but there’s one or two I needed a little better standard.”

As he opened his 13th training camp, Trotz was complimentary of the team’s overall conditioning following one of the more successful seasons in franchise history. He said Friday’s off-ice testing revealed greater athleticism than, perhaps, at any other time in franchise history.

So it wasn’t his players’ bodies that concerned him.

“We’re trying to train the mind a little bit and that can be real frustrating,” Trotz said. “If you’re not real strong there and you get a little tired, you can lose attention to detail.

“…Some of the young guys couldn’t execute at that speed, which is typical, but the older guys can and there was a little lack of detail from some of the older guys in the first one. It will be adjusted and it will get better.”