Chances are, the young players at this week's Carolina Hurricanes Development Camp will go through more rigorous workouts than the one they participated in Wednesday evening at PNC Arena. There's also a strong possibility that many of the players woke up Thursday with soreness in muscles they didn't know existed.
For that, they can thank Kim Muir, a power skating coach and the owner and president of Can't Skate, Can't Play. Muir put the players — split into two groups: first the defensemen and goalies, then the forwards — through several power skating drills Wednesday that tested their balance, technique and probably concentration.
"They should be [sore]," Muir said. "If not, we'll do it again."
That may make Muir sound like a taskmaster, but watching her work with the younger players revealed that her go-to method for getting the players through the drills is to simply make it fun. That's because she's looking to make a connection with each player: from calling them out by first name, to a playful shove, to her trademark, end-of-session hug.
"They're free," Muir said of the hugs she gives each and every player after they're done with the workout. "And when you make a connection with someone, that’s what it’s all about. So it’s not about the money, it’s not about anything else. More than anything it’s that you connect with people. And if that’s what connects you and you make them feel good, then you had a great day."
She's made plenty of connections during her 20 years in the business, working with both the Hurricanes and their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, and also the Detroit Red Wings. Both Tim Gleason and Chad LaRose have worked with her since they were young — Gleason since he was "12 or 13," she said — and they come back every year to learn more.
It's a good lesson to the teenagers and 20-somethings that are hoping to one day crack an NHL roster like those two.
"Sometimes they’ll think they’re just great skaters, and they don’t know their right from their left," Muir said. "Because it’s all new."
It was all new for 2012 fourth-round pick Trevor Carrick, a defenseman coming off his second OHL season.
"I’ve never really done anything like this, so it was neat to get out there and learn things that I had no idea about," Carrick said. "She’s fun, she made it a lot of fun."
For Brody Sutter, it was something he had done before but he appreciated the refresher course.
"Your legs feel it a lot more [than regular skating]," he said. "As long as you’re staying focused you can get a lot out of it."
And Muir even found a challenge for the 6'5, 203-pound Sutter during a drill that had players pulling another player behind them while they gripped the back of their sweater.
"I think I had to pull [camp invitee David] Pacan," Sutter said. "He’s 220 pounds, so that’s never fun."
Muir, who will be back for training camp, used different drills for the defense and offense, but said that as a player progresses with power skating — she said it takes months of consistent training, plus an expert at your side to analyze if it's being done properly — she uses all the drills regardless of position.
"You can never be more marketable than to be a two-way player," Muir said. "So if you can step up as an offensive defenseman and be the fourth offensive person, or if you can be that defensive person like a [Pavel] Datsyuk, why not?"
It was smiles and laughs on the ice for both sessions, but what Muir does is serious business.
"I’m not teaching basic skills out here. I’m teaching high-end skating for the game," she said.
The players are encouraged to use Muir individually to improve their skating, a good investment that can help them in their careers and keeps Muir doing what she loves. But regardless, the hugs are on the house.
Notes From Day Two
• Muir mentioned that it's easy for her to spot who is an advanced skater and who needs more help, but it didn't take an expert eye to notice that Ryan Murphy was not only the best skater at both sessions, arguably the best to pull on a Canes sweater since Bret Hedican. Murphy will have to overcome questions about his ability to handle NHL forwards if he's going to make the Hurricanes roster this fall, but there's no doubt his skating is easily up to snuff.
• Pretty much the entire Hurricanes coaching staff and front office watched the sessions from the stands, and a good number of fans watched from start to finish.
• University of Michigan teammates Phil Di Giuseppe and Mike Chiasson did not participate in Wednesday night's skate. Chiasson took a high stick in the morning session and sat out, while Di Giuseppe has been absent from all the on-ice activities this week due to injury. Di Giuseppe is unlikely to participate throughout the week.
• Defenseman Danny Biega, who finished four years at Harvard and played one regular season and three playoff games with the Checkers at the end of last season, said he felt he was in the best shape of his life this summer. That's saying a lot since Biega was one of the best-conditioned players during his draft year combine and is known for his strength and fitness. He also said he was fully recovered from presumed concussion he suffered on just his third professional shift back in mid-March that cost him six weeks off the ice before he rejoined the team during the playoffs.