Veteran defenseman Jay Harrison has helped head up the Canes' informal workouts at Raleigh Center Ice. Here's a Q&A with Harrison about what's been achieved in "Camp Harry" the past few weeks at RCI leading up to the start of the team's training camp.
Q: What's the mindset and objective of informal workouts?
A: "This time of year everybody is getting revved up and excited and anxious to do as much as they can to prepare and be ready. But at the same time experience has told me there's hard work and smart work. To do hard work smartly is the best combination of all. It's a matter of getting the most out of the time you're out there, understanding that the time leading into camp is really short compared to what you've put in during the summer and you don't want to sacrifice all the gains you've made by overtraining.
"The adrenaline to get going is there. You can see it. It's a matter of really mapping out things of where you want to be and peaking at the right time. That requires some planning and discipline."
Q: How do the practice plans come together?
A: "I have an idea of the things for me, personally, that I want to achieve. The summer is mapped out and these three weeks, as well, in preparation. For the group, it kind of mirrors that. Some of the guys have individual programs and we try to maximize a couple of days a week to focus on things that are high-tempo, game-like, NHL-practice-like to prepare the body, mind and the lungs. We also instill some fun while working on some skill stuff, some fun games while working on some things that can help you and make you more comfortable in the high intensity that comes in training camp."
Q: How do you decide how long to be on the ice?
A: "Because most guys are training before we skate and then stretch after we skate, you're looking at a solid 2 1-2 hours or three hours without any nutrition. That's quite a long time to be depleting the body. Again, it's a matter of maximizing your time without too much fatigue, both mentally and physically. So we get out there, do our work and get prepared, not unlike what we do in the season. That's pretty standard across the sport -- to get that high intensity, that focus and tempo for as long as you can. But when it drops off, to know it's dropping and it's time to rest for the next day."
Q: Who decides who runs the workouts?
A: "Some guys naturally take to it. Some guys naturally have an ability to put a practice together, or communicate with the guys and get a practice together. Somebody has to take control and say this is what we're going to do and how were going to do it.
"Input is always welcome. Guys are coming in from different kinds of training. But as long as you're going 100 percent out there, you're working and the effort is there, you're going to get where you need to be. That's my mentality, anyway. It's what you put into it. Everyone has come in with a solid foundation and eagerness to get going."
Q: Other than fitness and preparation, what else motivates the players in informals?
A: "We're challenged as a group. We have something to prove. There's not a day where I put on my skates or my running shows that I don't think about that challenge. I bring it to everything I do. We're really anxious and looking forward to the challenge. It's encouraging, what we've seen here."