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Last Practice

(Originally posted on Kukla’s Korner)

Training Camp is imminent.  Wednesday morning was the last Captain’s Practice I’ll attend this year.  Other duties call, in LA.  How fitting for a rival city to interfere with my fun.

The guys started skating early, I understand some were due at a function around lunch time.  Practice was well under way when I turned up at 9:30.  I hesitated at the door because a couple of people were standing there looking through the glass.  Well, in my head I hesitated.  I looked the door over, saw there was no sign telling me not to go in, and I went in.  There may have been no hesitation in my stride.

There were no other spectators yet, which left a daunting silence.  So far, practice spectators haven’t make a lot of noise, except for the sound of feet on the metal stands in the south rink.  Sometimes kids will make a little noise but mostly the volume is around a tennis audience hush, if the tennis audience were climbing up and down to find seats on metal benches.

I felt like an intruder, even though these are officially open to the public.  I know that feeling of doing your thing without anyone watching and then having someone show up to watch.  True, hockey players are among the professionally watched, but I imagine being left to their own devices is nice sometimes.  Oh well, there I was.

It wasn’t silent, not really.  There was the sound of skating and voices and shooting and a whistle to call shifts.  I don’t know why I like the sound of skating.  It isn’t exactly a soothing sound.  If I think about it, it reminds me a little of knives being sharpened.  I certainly don’t have a thing for knives being sharpened.  For whatever reason, I do like the sound, and I miss it during games.

At a game last year in LA (there that city is again), my seat was situated in such a spot that I could hear almost everything except the skates.  I was there with a cousin and I asked him about this acoustical trick. He noticed it too, said “it’s like they’re wearing sound-proofing on their skates or something.”  It was eerie, to hear voices and shots and hits but no skates.

At a quiet practice like this, that isn’t a problem.  It’s skating in high-def. A few others showed up to watch with me but it never got crowded.

There were so many Sharks there that I didn’t try to tweet the list.  Cheechoo and Stuart were there too, which suprised me a little.  Seems like the time draws near to get to your training camp city. Nolan’s in Vancouver, I suspect Nabby is back east, and a host of Sharks are here in San Jose now.

John McCarthy was there, which makes me happy.  I really liked how he played early last year with Nichols and Mayers.  Oh well, that line is kaput but he is still here.  McGinn was skating too, and Sean Sullivan.  Nick Petrecki was out there, and MacIntyre the visorless.

Couture and Boyle and Clowe and Marleau and McLaren and Burns and Acolatse and Demers and White and Niemi and Greiss were all there.  A miscue, a grimace, a goal, a celebration, a whistle, a change, a rush, a scramble.  And then they were finished and I had some time on my hands.

Less than a week before I can witness the next phase of 2011-12 season prep.  I’m already impatient.

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