MINI CAMP PREVIEW: JOSH BAILEY'S CAMP DAYS
Josh Bailey shares his mini camp experiences with newyorkislanders.com
Tuesday, 07.6.2010 / 4:03 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
In preparation for the week-long development camp, Josh Bailey talked about his past Mini Camp experiences so that the rest of us know what to expect from this week’s activities. Like most of the young talent, Bailey had no idea what to expect in July 2008.
“You kind of come in [to camp] not really knowing what it is going to be like and how the guys are going to be,” the forward said about his first Mini Camp.
“My second year (July 2009) was kind of more routine. I had already played a year in the National Hockey League and I was already familiar with Scott Gordon and how he likes to run practices,” Bailey said. “I kind of got to help out a little more on the ice with the other guys.”
This year Bailey will be going to Mini Camp, which will begin on Wednesday, July 7, but he will not be skating with the prospects. Attendees include first round draft picks Nino Niederreiter and Brock Nelson, 2008 Draft prospects Matt Martin and Travis Hamonic, as well as college players from all over Long Island.
For the guys who haven’t been to camp before, Bailey shared some advice.
“I don’t know if I could pinpoint one thing. I think it’s just a learning experience. Everyone goes through it,” Bailey said. “Just don’t be too nervous. I was nervous my first year. [The prospects should] just come in and be excited to be here.”
“For the first year guys, it’s their first taste of the NHL. It’s really exciting. It’s almost overwhelming at first, but when you get settled in it’s alright.”
So once the players get over their initial nerves, they should realize the unbelievable opportunity at their fingertips. Mini Camp is really an opportunity for young players to be taught by a coaching staff who can point out their areas of play that need improvement and offer them advice for their future.
“I think Mini Camp is obviously a stepping stone. If you come in and have a good Development Camp, you will have more confidence going into the main camp. If you have a couple of good games in the main camp, everything just kind of builds up and gets better and better. You cannot put too much pressure on yourself. You just have to come in and do your best and enjoy it.”
Although the players have arrived at a camp hosted by an NHL team, Islanders prospects still have a lot of firsts to look forward to. When Bailey skated in his first Development Camp and then his first Training Camp, he noticed a big difference.
“The guys are bigger and stronger playing the NHL,” Bailey said. “In Mini Camp the prospects don’t really get too much of a taste of that because it’s mostly younger guys. At camp it’s still Juniors guys and NCAA guys.”
“When you get to play on the Islanders it’s definitely a big jump. It’s overwhelming at first, but I think you kind of get past the wow factor of it and realize it’s just another game and you have to go into it looking at it the same way you did at the college or junior level, whatever the case may be.”
At the end of Mini Camp, Saturday, July 10, the prospects will have one opportunity to showcase their skills in a game-like atmosphere as they participate in the Orange & Blue Scrimmage, which will be followed by a Skills Competition.
Bailey’s first year at Development Camp, the prospects skated in a daily scrimmage, but in 2009 the calendar of events changed so that there was only one scrimmage at the end of the week, which was held at Iceworks in Syosset.
“Last year, Iceworks was packed. It was exciting,” Bailey said. “You kind of only have one game to show why you are drafted and why you are picked to this team so you just have to go out and do your best. It’s just one game so you really can’t put too much pressure on yourself, but if you go out and have a good game it obviously helps.”
Development Camp is packed with on-ice and off-ice training, but the prospects also get to do a lot of fun activities with each other throughout the week. This year, the prospects will go on a fishing trip, lie on the beach and attend a Mets game.
“My first year I roomed with Okposo, I got to know him well and became good friends with him. We are great friends to this day,” Bailey said. “But you also get to know all the guys who play in the American Hockey League at this point. You become really good friends with them through these camps and you hope to be their teammates one day.”
“You just get to know everyone. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a roommate, it’s a new guy you are meeting or a guy on your team at Mini Camp,” Bailey said. “We do so many things together it brings everyone together as a group.”