Sweat was dripping down William Dufour’s chin and he was trying to walk in a summer that was busy even by the standards of hockey players. it was monday morning and he had just come off the snow island The rookie camp where he is working – perhaps even taking advantage of – is the last remnant of the impact of COVID-19 on the hockey calendar.
That was the rescheduled World Junior Championships, which was abandoned mid-December and finally played a month earlier in Edmonton to a crowd of 55,686. And yes, that number is the combined attendance for all 28 games of the tournament, proving that even hockey junkie True North has its limits.
However, Dufour may not have its limits. Over the past year, he burst onto the scene as an Islanders prospect, playing in a 66-game Quebec Major Junior League campaign with the St. John Sea Dogs, putting up 116 points. He helped the Sea Dogs win the Memorial Cup. The final was played on home ice in New Brunswick on 25 June. However, instead of the usual summer break, he continued to play.
“I stayed for a month and a half” [in Saint John]Dufour said. “came to Quebec for two weeks. Came to New York [three or four] Day. Came back for four days. Go to Calgary for a week. Edmonton two weeks. And then Quebec for two weeks and then here.”
In the midst of all this, there was not much time for traditional summer training. Dufour estimates that he had 10-15 sessions with his instructor in Quebec. Otherwise he was playing.
As the islanders prepare to open their main camp, they hope this will help.
“On ice, I’m in top shape right now,” Dufour said. “I’ve played hockey all summer, so I’m already in game shape.”
The other Top Islanders prospect caught in the scheduling madness, Aatu Rati, agreed.
“I thought there was a lot on the ice for Team Finland camp and World Juniors certainly prepared me well for it, especially for the snow part,” Ratty told The Post. “The amount of time spent in the gym, traveling and on the ice once or twice, not even twice a day.”
Ratty split time for World Juniors this summer between Edmonton, his hometown of Oulunsalo, Finland and Greece, where he got at least a week off. In a typical summer (though, to be fair, it’s been almost three years since anything qualified as a normal summer), Ratie would have covered snow several months long.
“After Bridgeport” [got eliminated from the AHL playoffs]“I was going on this for 13 months straight,” Ratty said. “Twelve months, I think, was my season, because they started so early in Finland. I tried to take some time off from workouts, but…”
In Greece, at least, his activities did not conform to a schedule – he just played golf and tennis. Outside that week, however, Ratty’s comfort was mostly driven by jet lag.
“Definitely feel in shape,” he said.
Dufour, who scored seven points in seven World Junior Games – two of them against Ratie’s Finland – for gold medal-winning Team Canada, said the tournament helped take his confidence to another level, especially on the defensive end. , which he openly identifies as one. weakness.
“I played a very good two-way game,” he said. “PK and at the end of the tournament, I was playing in the first line, I was trying to shut down Ratty and his line.”
Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said on Monday that he doesn’t think any players are ready for the NHL yet, and that in any case, getting the team out of camp would be a steep climb without unforeseen circumstances, leading to a place ahead. Will open
“When it comes to young players, I want them to be too late,” Lamoriello said.
The goal for them is, of course, to disregard that expectation. But Dufour is only 20, Ratty is just 19.
“If I can play in the NHL this year, I’m going to do my best,” Dufour said. “But if it’s not working out, Bridgeport will be there and I can’t wait to play this year.”
Perhaps, however, it is wrong to make a permanent start.