With Development Camp winding down at Toyota Sports Center today, I wanted to share a conversation I had with Mike Donnelly from earlier in the week. Donnelly, the team’s Collegiate Scout – Western and a member of the development staff, spoke about the driving force behind getting the players to improve as individuals and maximize their abilities under the guidance of the team.
Not surprisingly, when Alec Martinez buries the rebound of a Tyler Toffoli shot to clinch the team’s second Stanley Cup in three seasons, a profound sense of pride and validation is shared by those who have invested so much in the players’ development.
“That’s why we do it. That’s exactly [why],” Donnelly said. “The reason why we do it is Pearson, Toffoli, Martinez, Voynov, King. That’s why we’re doing it. We’re very fortunate that from the top down that we’re able to provide a service to these kids and take all our experiences that we’ve had though our careers and help them avoid some of the pitfalls and the bumps and the peaks and valleys that we had to go through as players. We’re very fortunate that everybody in the organization believes in development and how important it is. We take our jobs very seriously. But when we see our kids make it and we see our kids play at high levels like we saw in the playoffs, it’s an unbelievable feeling. I can’t describe it to you guys It’s an unbelievable feeling. We put a lot of work into this over the last eight years, and it’s awesome to see the results that we’ve had – two Stanley Cups and one final four appearance. It’s awesome as a group.”
On the purpose of Development Camp:
Well, what we’re looking for is just to try and start teaching them good practice habits, work ethic, and introduce them to some of the things that we believe are important for our young players to start practicing.
On the importance of working with players they don’t see often:
It’s very important. These five days that we have them are crucial. First of all, we get to meet our new draft picks, because as a development staff, we haven’t seen ‘em, right? So this is our first time. So we get them on the ice, and it’s very important to spend this amount of time with them at this stage of their careers, for them and for us.
On whether prospects are encouraged by Pearson and Toffoli’s opportunities:
Yes, for sure. You look on defense or forwards – and our jobs are to get them as NHL-ready as we can. We know what our job is. We have an excellent staff with Mike O’Connell, Nelson Emerson and Glen Murray. We know what our job is, and we have to do whatever we can to try to help these kids get ready in case they’re needed in the big club, or when they’re ready to step in and play.