As part of a continuing series for Heebonics, NHL prospect and ex-Israeli National Hockey Team star, Oren Eizenman, shares his thoughts on attending the Vancouver Canucks' 2008-09 training camp in his quest to make the big league.
Today, his second installment... plus answers to reader questions.
By: Oren Eizenman
Our first real practice took place on the second day of camp. I was eager to get started but knew that it would hurt a bit. The first practice after a long summer away from organized hockey is always a little tiring, so I expected what came my way. The practice was sandwiched between two workouts, which made it a lot less fun than you might think. I felt good out there - a little rusty, but good.
One thing that caught me by surprise was the number of fans that showed up to the practice. By the time I weaved my way through the sea of eager autograph seekers and stepped on the ice, there were hundreds of people in the rink. It was definitely the largest crowd I've ever had watch me practice. Speckled within that crowd were the people I needed to impress: Alain Vigneault (head coach of the Canucks), Mike Gilles (GM of the Canucks) and every other person with a say in my immediate, professional future.
After our second workout, we had a media session where I was able to sharpen my clichés and witty repartee which is, as anyone who has ever seen an interview with a hockey player can attest, just as important as sharpening my skates.
I got back to the hotel just after 2 p.m. and realized that I had nothing to do, as is often the case at training camps. I was happy for a chance to relax and, after lunch, saw a couple of movies and walked around Vancouver for a while. The movies I saw were sub-par, but I did enjoy walking down to the water and hanging out around the boardwalk for a while.
Today was Day Three and it was much the same as Day Two except with one essential difference: I played much better. I felt a lot more comfortable on the ice and made some very good plays, both good signs heading into the exhibition games tomorrow and Tuesday. The day continued to get better when a good friend of mine, John Morlang, came to see me. John lives about a half-hour from Vancouver and knows the city very well. We ate lunch and he took me to some cool places around the city. There's nothing like a familiar face when you are away from home; it was awesome to see him.
Tomorrow we fly out to Alberta to play against the Calgary Flames rookie team. I'll let everyone know how that goes, although you may be able to find out on your own. I saw that there were highlights of the leaf's rookie game on TSN, so maybe our game will get some attention as well.
[Ed. Note: Vancouver lost 6-3 to Calgary on Tuesday night, but Oren scored one of the Canucks' goals. Last night, the team beat Edmonton 5-2, but Oren did not make the scoresheet.]
Q&A: Oren Eizenman answers some of your questions about the NHL and Hockey life in general
Q: Do you ever get nervous going to a camp where you don't know anybody? And if so, does it affect your play when you are on the ice? And do you have a nickname that your teammates call you while your on the ice? My teammates call me J-bone, so that I know it is my teammates calling me and not the other team.
When I went to my first pro camp in Chicago last year I was very nervous and it certainly affected my play. This year I feel a little bit more comfortable but I still do get nervous before games. I found a good way to calm myself down though, I just think of my family and friends and try to picture what they're doing at that exact moment. It kind of takes the pressure off, when I realize that I'm fortunate enough to be playing the game that I love. Then I just go out and enjoy the experience.
I have a couple of different nicknames actually. Some people call me Eizy, some call me O, I even had a guy on my team call me O-dog last year.
Good luck with your hockey,
Q: Oren, What is it like being a super-prospect on the west coast? Are you getting involved with any Jewish social scenes out there? What are the meals like at camp? Do they ever serve pacific salmon? Are these questions filling your well? I fully trust you are well.
It is quite an experience being at an NHL training camp. I'm not sure if super-prospect is the category I'd put myslef into, but it does feel good knowing that what I'm doing is being judged by an NHL club. I have only been in Vancouver for a couple of days and so I have not been involved in the Jewish social scene yet. Although, the dentist who checked my teeth during medical testing was Jewish and actually grew up a couple fo streets from where I did in the Bathurst Manor. I spoke to him for a little while, does that count?
The meals at camp are amazing. Everything that they do here is of the highest class and I really can't say enough good things about the way I'm being treated. No Pacific Salmon yet though.
Hope that fills some gaps for you,