They came, they saw, they played ball hockey.
Was it everything Team Canada's coaches and management group hoped to get out of their three-day Olympic orientation camp? Strangely enough, most said yes. Perhaps because it was in slow-motion, running on boards, passing an orange ball, the images of the style head coach Mike Babcock wants them to play once they get to Sochi might stand out a little more starkly, be a little easier to recall, in the couple of days they will have in Russia before their first game of the 2014 Winter Games.
Executive director Steve Yzerman may have been kidding us a little when he said "conservatively, eight or nine" places on the 25-man roster are all but locked up, barring injury.
Then again, "barring injury" is like wishing for the moon.
Star players are going down at rates never seen even four years ago and, with the heightened awareness of concussions, for longer periods. It may be no stretch to speculate that a significant percentage of the players they have in the mind for the team right now could be injured when the squad is named in mid to late December - or injured between then and the start of the Games in February.
COACHSPEAK: "They came here for three simple things," Babcock said at the conclusion of the exercise Tuesday evening. "No. 1 was to get to know everybody better from players to coaches to management to trainers, to get to know them and have a comfort level.
"No. 2 is to understand the details of how we're going to play - terminology, where to stand, how to play in your own zone, how to play on the power play, penalty kill. We've gone over and over that. The walkthroughs made it slow enough to really spend some time on it.
"The third thing I think was critical for them is the evaluation process. How do you get to Sochi? We've tried to explain it to each and every guy so when they leave here they've got three months to do their part. They're in control of whether they go.
"I think it's very specific. You tell them how they have to play to be on this team. You tell them the way they have to take care of the puck, the way you skate, the way you play defence. What's involved. What were looking for. If you're leaving here without an idea you didn't listen."
CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN: If Sidney Crosby is healthy, he's all but certain to be named captain of the team, though Jonathan Toews would be every bit as good a choice.
Four years ago, Crosby said, he was more in awe of the veterans on the team like Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, but now - at 26, right in the middle of the pack age-wise - he's fine with taking on more of a leadership role.
"I don't think it's a conscious decision you make, I think it's just a natural progression when you've played on a team before, you understand things a bit better. It's a comfort level. It's the difference between going to your first Olympic camp and your second one."
SPORT OF CHOICE: The media here all made their own predictions as to the likely makeup of the team - some, like the TV networks, more loudly than others - but it's a long, long way from being decided.
"There's a lot of could-be's, but I think the first half of the year just has such an impact on who's on the team," Crosby said. "I'm sure there's some guys (the coaches have) in mind, but there'll be guys who have standout first halves, and will make it tough not to be selected. So I think we're going to see here in the first half who really shows they want to be part of it. I don't think the team's even close to being (picked), but everyone's going to make their own team, and
I'm sure we're going to hear about it."
SHARP GUY: Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp played all the sessions on Crosby's wing and admitted it was a thrill, but said he's not "playing general manager" and trying to read anything into line combinations. He was also at the pre-2010 evaluation camp, but didn't make the team.
"I was 26 or 27. I don't want to say I was star struck, but I was excited to be here. But I don't know if I really believed then that I belonged. I know that's a bad thing to say as a player," he said. "This time around, I'm much more confident, I've played in a some pretty serious games. Since 2009 we've gone deep in the playoffs three times and won the Stanley Cup twice. So a lot has changed for my game since then and hopefully I can play well this year and show the coaches and Hockey Canada that I belong."
Yzerman said Sharp has "a very good chance" of making it.
NO WEAKNESS: Crosby isn't buying the suggestion that Canada's Achilles heel could be the goaltending.
"I don't think you ever win without good goaltending, you definitely need it, you can't sit here and say that you know, average (will do) ... but we have really good goalies. The goalies that are here, we don't have anything to worry about at that position," he said.
"But you look at any team that's won anything in hockey, whether it's a big save in the first period of the final game or one that gets you to the final game, they will be a factor at some point."
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