Traverse City is a special place to me – the scenery, social hot spots and atmospheric coffee shops add to its charm. One building however, that holds specific charm for myself – Centre Ice Arena.
Centre Ice hosts the Detroit Red Wings hockey club for a number of special events during the month of September. This year I’ve had the pleasure of attending Traverse City (TC) Detroit Red Wings Development Camp, Prospect Tournament and the Detroit Red Wings Training Camp. These events give me the unique opportunity to watch players from the beginning and through their individual development. From Development Camp to Training Camp, these players are put through strenuous drills and off ice workouts to test physical and mental ability. Involved players come directly from the Detroit Red Wings (National Hockey League), Grand Rapids Griffins (American Hockey League), colleges around the area as well as leagues and teams around the world. These weekends are where I get the privilege of spending 15+ hours in a hockey rink watching some of the most talented players from around the world gain experience with every year. Every year, I find I appreciate the discipline it takes to become an outstanding hockey player – no one exhibits that quite like the unsung heroes of TC’s Training Camp.
Red Wings Training Camp is divided into three groups; Delvecchio, Howe and Lindsey. Team Delvecchio includes the gents from the Red Wings, some of their star prospects like forward Tyler Bertuzzi and Dennis Cholowski and even some veteran Griffins such as Ben Street. Team Howe showcases the talents and skills of most of our Grand Rapids Griffin’s boys such as forward Evgeny Svechnikov, recent Detroit acquisition Vili Saarijarvi and some Prospect Tournament stand-outs including forward Luke Esposito. Team Lindsey is mostly focused around prospects that were involved in the Prospect Tournament as well as other minor hockey leagues such as forward Jordan Sambrook and Oliver Castleman.
What team do you root for when all the teams are made of your favorite hockey team? Well, a simple answer is “all of the teams.” While rooting for all teams, however, there are two teams in specific that I can’t help but highlight. There is something extra special about watching teams Howe and Lindsay. The bleachers aren’t as full as if it were all signed Red Wings scrimmaging and the folks in the surround seats ask who in the world some these guys are. I chime in and offer my two cents about the guys who have proven time again that they are worth their weight (and that’s a lot) in gold (or Calder Cups, if you prefer). I was honored to watch the Grand Rapids Griffins in the 2016-17 regular season and honored once more, to witness this incredible team win the Calder Cup in 2017 in a packed house of over 10,000 fans at the Van Andel Arena. The guys participating in the TC Training Camp from this team and other minor leagues have worked hard for their spot and deserve recognition.
The purpose of this website is to do just that. We aim to bring recognition and highlight deserving players. These kids from 17 years old and up are eventually going to be the new faces of hockey. Players like Evgeny Svechnikov become as talented as Sergei Federov and guys like Dominik Shine and Dylan McIlrath win the Stanley Cup. The stars we watched as kids started as kids themselves in arenas much like Centre Ice. Before we were able to witness the finesse of Russian skaters like Federov, Konstantinov and Larionov or the dual play of Yzerman and Zetterberg, Red Wing scouts recognized the potential at tournaments and camps like this.
The passion and dedication that drives these young guys are what makes me love watching, talking, writing and fan-girling hockey. They are worth the time.