My first training camp with a new team, the Mississauga St. Mike’s Majors, went a lot better than I expected. What I was expecting was an organization that wants to win and is a complete class act, but the Majors exceeded that through the treatment they gave us on and off the ice.
What really made it an exceptional camp for me was that the group of guys we have here made me feel extremely welcome and comfortable. I actually went to Mississauga a day before the camp for a skate just to meet the guys and our chemistry took off from there.
Once camp got rolling, things continued to progress daily at the rink and by the end I felt like I had been on the team for a year. That’s a great feeling because it helps you feed off confidence that translates to on-ice performance. I was also put with billets who are simply amazing and they’ve totally made me feel at home. Being in a much different and better environment always leads to improved results.
Being ranked fifth in the Canadian League heading into the season is a tremendous honor and I say that on behalf of the organization. As a collective, we realize this is recognition of the great team we have, but it’s also something we look at as a foundation – in other words, a place to start and build from. We know we have to work extremely hard to improve on this ranking and I know with the group of guys we have we’ll work as hard as we can and beyond to accomplish this.
There has been a lot of talk lately about fighting in exhibition games and whether it is necessary. Naturally, you do see more fights in the pre-season because often there are guys looking to crack the roster and fighting is one way of achieving this goal. Personally, I have absolutely no problem with this because fighting is part of the game and it always will be. It’s also fair for players who don’t have enough natural ability to make the team on skill alone, so they can take on the fighting role and stick up for their teammates, which is something every team needs.
It doesn’t necessarily mean a team needs a designated fighter because it isn’t a secret the designated fighter days are starting to become obsolete. However, nowadays there are guys who will take on a heavier load of fighting, but they also have a role in the system and aren’t a liability on the ice.
If you take a look at the Majors, we don’t have a specific tough guy, but anybody on the team will drop the mitts to stick up for a teammate and that is what is seen more nowadays versus players who are strictly tough guys.
Right winger Gregg Sutch enters his second year in the Ontario League having been traded over the summer to Mississauga from Sarnia. The 17-year-old native of Newmarket, Ont., is taking part in the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia and is highly touted for the 2010 NHL draft. He will blog throughout the season for THN.com. Read Sutch’s other blogs HERE.