Protecting your key assets is hardly a new concept.
Red Deer Rebels head coach/vice-president of hockey operations Jesse Wallin was simply following protocol Sunday when he sat rising Western Hockey League superstar Ryan Nugent-Hopkins during the first sessions of training camp.
Nugent-Hopkins after all, was airborne through much of August and has been somewhat under the weather since returning from the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where he sniped the lone goal in Canada’s 1-0 gold-medal win over the U.S. and also led the tourney in scoring.
The 17-year-old product of Burnaby, B.C., followed the Ivan Hlinka tournament in early August with an appearance in an NHL research and development camp in Toronto.
“He got a flu bug or some kind of virus overseas,” said Wallin. “He’s feeling better, he’s improving, but he just doesn’t have his energy back. He’s been in some pretty high-intensity workouts over the past few weeks. He played in the under-18 tournament, then flew back to Vancouver and then crossed a few more time zones to get back to Toronto.
“He’s had a busy month and between the hockey and all the travel and jet lag we just feel that he needs that time to kind of recover and recuperate. We’ll give him a few days until he gets back up to speed and feels 100 per cent before we get him out on the ice.”
l A healthy handful of players who stood out in the rookie camp sessions Sunday will be added to the main camp roster today. The players in transit will include defencemen Matt Dumba, who dominated the rookie scrimmages.
Other prime candidates to move up are rearguards Davin Stener, Lucas Grayson and Danys Chartrand, and forwards Chase McMurphy, Joel Hamilton, Mason Burr, Cory Millette and Spencer Kryczka. All but Millette and Kryczka are eligible to play full-time this season.
Training camp resumes this morning with an 8:30 a.m. rookie session The main-camp players are on the ice from 10:30 am. to 12:45 p.m. and again from 4:45-6:15 p.m. for a scrimmage.
The rookies return for a 90-minute session at 2:45 p.m. and a goalie session is scheduled for 1-2:30 p.m.
Training camp concludes with the McDonald’s Black and White intrasquad game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
l Team White rolled over Team Burgundy in both opening-day rookie scrimmages.
Burr and Stuart Symenuk each tallied twice in a 9-2 morning victory, with Hamilton, Dumba, Scott Ferguson, Nick Glackin and Spencer Weselosky also scoring for the winners and McCoy and Nicholas Hermary replying in a losing cause.
In the afternoon clash, Dumba scored two goals and Burr, Hamilton, Symenuk and David Heath added singles in a 6-0 Team White conquest. Bolton Pouilot and Will Heseltine shared the shutout.
l Red Deer product Jody Sick, who last season played with the major bantam Rebels White, was added to the Rebels rookie camp roster Monday.
The addition was made when forward Kolten Anderson of Lloydminster was unavailable to attend after suffering a concussion at the Edmonton Oil Kings camp last week.
Also missing from the Rebels rookie camp due to injuries are forwards Jackson Playfair and Brooks Maxwell.
Meanwhile, defenceman Kayle Doetzel, the Rebels’ first pick in this year’s bantam draft, hasn’t been able to participate in scrimmages due to cracked ribs and is limited to skating during the main camp drills.