Tonight’s game vs. Red Bull Salzburg in Cortina d’Ampezzo marks the end of the first summer camp for Gagarin Cup holder Metallurg Magnitogorsk. On the eve of the game, Magnitka head coach Mike Keenan briefly talked to khl.ru about the first part of his team’s preparation for the title defense.
What are the main goals of this preseason camp?
“We’ve certainly had a good amount of work here in Cortina, and we’ve put in a lot of practices in a short period of time and tried to get the team game ready. And I think we’ve accomplished a couple of things that we set out to do. One was to certainly make sure that we had game fitness, and secondly to evaluate some of our new players and I think we’ve had time to do that now. We’ll play a game this evening and then go home and practice a couple of times before we got to the big tournament in Ufa.”
And how are the newcomers settling in?
“They’ve got to make a big adjustment to the speed of our game. Our game looks to me like it’s much faster than they are accustomed to. And our training is much faster than they are accustomed to so their timing, their game-timing, has to improve. It’s quite similar to our players last year in training camp, when we trained them to improve the speed of their game. That was certainly an adaptation that took place over the course of last year’s training camp. Now, this year, the new players have to make the same adaptation.”
You were one of the last teams to return from the summer vacations. Understandable for the champions, of course, as you played all the way through last season. In what way, if any, might this have an influence on preparing for the coming season?
“Well, it has already. For example, last year in Garmisch-Partenkirchen we would only train once a day on the ice, whereas here, in Cortina, it’s twice a day on the ice. So we made some changes in our training regimen, because we have a shorter period of time. That’s been a big difference for the players. They got more time off, but we’ve condensed our training schedule as well.”
What will tonight’s game tell you, and what conclusions might you draw from it?
“Well, we just want to get them involved in the competitive values of the game, and that’s the primary objective tonight.”
So, you’re not demanding any particular result?
“Not at this point, no. We’re just trying to get them mentally prepared and start playing again, because next week we have four games in five nights in Ufa, and that’s pretty intense. Then the next week we go to Kazan, and then we have the Romazan Memorial Cup, so we have a busy schedule. From this point on until the start of the season we have ten preseason games.”