Golden Knights explain how optional morning skates hide
On the morning of almost every Golden Knights game, whether at home or away, optional skating is provided. There may be a handful of participants or a full team, depending on a number of factors.
But who is allowed to “take the option” and skip the morning skating? And how is that decided?
It is a combination of health, personal preference and length of service to determine who is on the ice for optional skating hours before a game.
“We are all grown men. We can make our own decisions, ”said defenseman Zach Whitecloud before injuring himself in Friday’s game against Edmonton. “Obviously, if it’s a full team skating, we’re going to go out there and skate as a team. If this is an option, and you have bumps and bruises, you want to take a morning, get on and work or if you just want to rest, that’s your choice.
The origin of the morning skate is unclear, with players from the 1940s known to jump across the ice in their wetsuits to test their skate blade for that night’s game.
The modern version was popularized in the 1970s after the Soviet Red Army team faced Team Canada in the Summit Series and inspired coaches such as Fred Shero of Philadelphia and Scotty Bowman of Montreal to hold the skate as deterrent to hit the bars the day before.
Anyone who went to work with a hangover the next day knows why.
Over the past few years, many coaches have made morning skates optional, and some have phased them out altogether.
Unlike a full practice, morning skates are shorter and less intense. There are a few light exercises to relax the players’ legs, and teams can run races online, depending on the number of participants.
The Knights often run through their rosters on the power play if there are enough members on the ice. Crosses practice face-offs towards the end of the session, while defenders and other forwards practice deflections at the other end of the ice.
But there is no detailed systems work or game planning for that night’s opponent on the ice.
When Gerard Gallant coached the Knights, the general rule was that morning skates were optional if the team trained the day before. It seems to have carried over to Pete DeBoer’s tenure.
“It’s everyone’s choice. There’s really nothing behind it, ”Whitecloud said. “If it’s optional, you might see some guys there. You could see two guys there, you could see 20. That’s just how it goes.
Goalkeeper Robin Lehner doesn’t always participate in the morning skating sessions when he needs to start. He was not on the ice for optional practice Wednesday or Friday, and an emergency goaltender had the opportunity to face NHL shooters.
Injured left winger Max Pacioretty’s distaste for morning skates is well known, dating back to his days as a player in Montreal.
For many young players, morning training should be part of their game day routine.
“I like to skate in the morning,” said winger Keegan Kolesar. “Sometimes goalies want to work on things so Mike Rosati our goalie coach asks me to come early and I’m more than happy.
DeBoer was invited ahead of Friday’s game against Edmonton who is allowed to skip optional morning practice. He used reporters in the room as examples and noted that a veteran can take the option while someone with less experience should be on the ice.
For Whitecloud, who is in his third season, there is usually no choice to skate.
“Am I allowed? Yes you can do whatever you need to do to play well,” Whitecloud said. “If I don’t skate in the morning and play like shit then I’ll probably skate next time around. . “