By Nick Barnowski -
PLYMOUTH - Both Red Wings fans and players share something in common heading into the 2013 campaign: they each only have less than a week to prepare for the 48 game season.
For forward Justin Abdelkader, that means getting back to business right away.
Abdelkader and his teammates kicked off training camp today at Compuware Arena in Plymouth. The practice was free to the public, where around 2,000 fans watched the team for the first time in the new year.
“It’s great to get all the guys back here and get some skates in,” the Muskegon native said. “We’re looking forward to spending a few days here and getting back to the Joe and starting up.”
Abdelkader, who scored 22 points in 81 games last season, knows that it’s going to be a little bit tougher to get back into grind of the season with a training camp that’s much shorter than their usual September camp.
“Obviously guys know that we don’t have the luxury of time to get ready,” he said. “But everyone’s in the same boat, so hopefully we’ll be ready by Saturday.”
While previous camps have allowed the team to settle in at a slower pace, Mike Babcock and the Wings coaching staff are going to up the tempo in an effort to prepare the team for their first game on January 19 vs the Blues. Abdelkader commented on the pace of the practice after the skate.
“It’s similar [to prior years] but I’d still say it was faster. We worked out in the morning, came here, got a couple of ice sessions in, so the pace should help us get ready.”
After seeing the turnout the team had for the first day of practice, Abdelkader is encouraged about the response from the fans after the 113-day lockout.
“I think the free practices are awesome,” he said. “The fans deserve that for what they had to go through the past three or four months and it’s great they could come out and watch.”