The Nanaimo Clippers orientation camp served its purpose.
New coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp organized this past weekend’s two-day camp to try to get a better feel for the roster he inherited. He’s got a sense now and fans can expect some changes.
“I don’t think it’s fair to base a full opinion on a player on what you saw in a camp in July,” Vandekamp said. “But you can generalize it a little bit anyways and you can make a little bit of an assessment. I certainly would feel more comfortable tweaking and making moves today than I did last week, that’s for sure.”
The GM saw some assets and some deficiencies.
“I think we’ve got a wonderful attitude amongst our group, I think we’ve got a good work ethic in our group…” he said. “Generally we are not big enough. We’re certainly not a rugged team by any stretch of the imagination. Having the camp just confirmed that.”
What was missing, Vandekamp said, was the “rip-your-head-off attitude” that he covets.
“Everybody came as advertised, I guess. There was no big surprises among the returning players,” he said. “There’s a couple of bigger, stronger young kids there that I think are going to be able to add to our overall physical stature of our team and the gritty side of our team.”
Team captain Colton Cyr said he noticed some recruits who look ready to push the veterans.
“Hopefully these guys can continue to work hard over the summer and when we do get started, that they do help the older guys as well as us helping them out,” Cyr said.
Working hard between now and training camp is a must, Vandekamp said. He expects the players to be “a whole heck of a lot better than they were this past weekend,” and he told them so.
“Returning players always feel like, well, I played here before so I’m just going to be here again. I don’t think that’s a very safe assumption at this point,” said the GM.
With the new recruits, plus new B.C. Hockey League rules limiting roster size and mandating 16- and 17-year-old players, there simply isn’t room for every returning veteran.
“It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that somebody that played here before is not going to be on the hockey club,” Vandekamp said. “Main camp will have to determine that to some degree, or whatever we do between now and main camp.”
He noted that there are certainly some smaller players on the roster who bring a lot to the team, but he said he wants to add size and strength.
“We’re going to probably change the culture of our team a little bit. In reality it wasn’t the most successful hockey club in Canada last year so I think it’s safe to say that making some changes in the personnel wouldn’t be a bad thing. Albert Einstein was the one that said, you can’t expect to do the same thing over again and expect a different result.”