The Detroit Red Wings open up training camp today, and for the 20th year in a row, it’ll be in Traverse City.
Before training camp gets underway, the Red Wings host what’s called a prospect tournament — a showcase for some of the best young players in professional hockey.
Jiří Fischer, is the director of player evaluation for the Red Wings.
“We get to evaluate our young prospects against the Red Wings and maybe project how far away they are from anchoring a spot on the roster,” he says.
When training camp starts, the Red Wings have the equivalent of three full rosters present. That’s between 60 and 70 players.
“Every training camp is crucial and I really do believe that there’s more and more emphasis every year on good starts of each team in the NHL season, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” says Fischer
To pull off both the prospect tournament and the Wings training camp, Centre Ice Arena needs a lot of help.
“If we didn’t have over 200 volunteers, we’d never make it work,” says Terry Marchand, the executive director of Centre Ice.
Marchand is in the middle of the busiest week of his year, making sure the facility is ready to go. He says the events put a lot of pressure on the ice and their physical plant.
“The ice gets beat up like nothing else, because we don’t have these NHL teams playing back-to-back games,” he says.
Centre Ice recently had to upgrade both their rinks to comply with NHL safety standards. Things like a new glass board system that flexes when players crash into it and kevlar netting around the rink to protect fans from stray pucks. All told the updates cost around $220,000, but Marchand says it’s worth it.
“There are not many rinks in the country that can put on an eight-team tournament like we do,” he says. “And we were built for it, and that’s why 20 years later we’re still doing it.”
The Detroit Red Wings training camp opens today. For more information, click here.