Many of you have heard that the Edmonton Oilers have staff on hand to help welcome new members and their families not only to the Oilers family, but also to the city of Edmonton. New families get help choosing neighbourhoods, homes and schools. There is also help with shopping and any questions that they may have about the city. Overall, this is not only an excellent idea, but one would think a necessity for a family that is separated due to frequent road trips, so need to make the most of their little time together. It would only make sense that the Oilers would have resources available to their prospects. Now, there is confirmation that they do.
Many of the players at development camp this week at Millenium Place in Sherwood Park are billeted while they play with their junior teams. As such, many skills such as cooking and laundry may not be something that has become a priority for the youths. Even if cooking is something that the players feel they can do for themselves, we are usually talking about cup of noodles and boxed macaroni and cheese; not exactly chocked full of nutrients. Then there is the matter of money. Some of these players will soon have more money than they've ever had and will not know how best to manage it.
To help combat against this situation, the Oilers are offering more than just on and off ice training, which is also phenomenally individually planned and executed, but area also holding some important life skills sessions and workshops.
On the ice the players are put through some substantial skating drills with skating coach Steve Serdachny and the rest of the Oilers' coaching and development team. Off the ice, the players get individual training schedules and plans. As well, the team of prospects are taking yoga classes together. From the tweets I saw, not all of of them are used to this type of workout, but with all of the stresses that they are putting on their young and growing bodies, it's a good idea to get some stretching and flexibility work in as well. This type of workout can help not only with recovery but also injury prevention. As such, players such as Tyler Bunz are believers in hot yoga training, especially during their off season.
Off of the ice, the players have participated in a cooking competition, team copper and team blue at The Lux Steakhouse and Bar, a restaurant part owned by beloved Oiler Ryan Smyth. The players were selected by team captains, playground rules style and according to the Oilers' Travel Crew "BREAKING NEWS: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins drafted last overall by team copper captain Colten Teubert at the prospects cooking challenge." Thankfully there were no injuries or fires, there were even no leftovers thanks to the tireless efforts of Anton Lander.
As well as cooking classes, the Oilers prospects have discussed the importance and danger of social media. Through most of these developing players' youths has come the emergence of facebook, text messaging and now even twitter. It is so easy for most of us to forget how reaching anything you say may be, and that anything you say on the internet may not be as anonymous as you may think. This is of major significance to any up and coming hockey player. No one wants to learn the lessons that many learned in Vancouver this spring.
The Oilers have also brought up the subject of money with the young players, or rather how best to manage their finances so that their cash will last longer than their playing careers. This is a lesson that absolutely everyone should take at one point or another, but it is of vital importance to any 18 year old who is about to, or has just signed a contract where they will make more money than they will know what to do with. I hate to admit this, but this is a course that should perhaps be offered periodically through a person's career. What is learned and absorbed at 18 would be quite different from 28. At the same time, the players need to learn what questions to ask and how to do their research to find someone they can trust to help them manage their finances and ultimately their futures.
All of these steps will hopefully add to and enhance the experience of being an Oiler prospect. Happy players are an important first step to successful players and a successful team.
A big thank you to Jason Gregor for his interview with Billy Moores on Thursday July 7th where Moores listed more of the sessions that the Oilers are hosting. If you would like to check out the audio, you can listen online or download the podcast. In case you're on the run, I hope you enjoyed your update.