NEWARK, NJ – Normally, the New Jersey Devils red and white sweaters are preserved for October through April-May-June. Monday at AmeriHealth Pavilion, 38 players wore the NJ emblem on their chest for the team’s annual Rookie Camp.
Familiar faces to Albany’s fan base included (G) Scott Wedgewood, (D) Brandon Burlon, (D) Eric Gelinas, (D) Seth Helgeson, (D) Jon Merrill, (D) Damon Severson, (F) Reid Boucher and (F) David Wohlberg.
“It’s good to get on the ice and get all the guys out there,” Merrill said. “I thought it was pretty sharp for the first day and we’ll move forward for the rest of the week.”
Monday included four practices, which split the 38 participants into two groups. A pair of morning skates preceded a couple in the afternoon.
“There are guys coming from all different backgrounds: Europe, college, the CHL and a couple of guys from the [AHL],” Burlon said. “It’s just getting used to things here and how things are run. Hopefully by the end of the week you have a better grasp of how New Jersey is.”
The eight players from Albany have already experienced several of these rookie camps. For a skater like Helgeson, who has been with the organization since being drafted in 2009, there is an added level of comfort during these mid-summer sessions.
“I think I come in with a little more experience than the other guys and have kind of been around the block a few times,” Helgeson said. “So it’s definitely coming in with a little more confidence and being familiar with everyone.”
Although the week will be competitive, the ultimate goal is effort and enjoyment.
“Last night Mr. Lamoriello was stressing having fun,” Burlon said. “Work hard, but have fun.”
Camp resumes Tuesday with a 10 am scrimmage.