If anybody on the Blue Jackets understood how Gustav Nyquist felt during training camp last month, it was Riley Nash.
Like Nyquist, who signed with Columbus as an unrestricted free agent July 1, Nash joined the Jackets through free agency — only a year earlier. Nash, like Nyquist, was given prior notice about how physically demanding training camp would be under the direction of coach John Tortorella — who believes that getting through a grueling couple of weeks pays dividends for players all season.
Still, Nash and Nyquist — and every other player who has never gone through “Camp Torts” — needed to experience it firsthand before they fully understood how tough it would be.
“It’s just the amount,” Nash said of the conditioning work. “It just seems like you never stop. There’s like three or four days where we just skate so much and it’s hard, and guys are pushing for it and guys are pushing them, so it’s quite tough.”
Tough enough that Nash knows now that it’s OK to come home from one of those workouts and just lay on the couch. Tough enough to know he will need massages and ice baths to get through it. It’s almost as tough as the grueling development camps he endured as a prospect with the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes — back when those type of camps could last up to four or five hours at a time on the ice.
“I remember those being the hardest, but Torts’ camp?” Nash said. “I remember last year … I was in a dark place for a couple of days.”
Nyquist didn’t go that far in describing his first Tortorella camp, after signing a five-year contract, but he clearly felt the effects. He also said it was probably the toughest NHL camp he’s ever had.
“You work hard,” said Nyquist, who spent the first eight years of his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. “You come to work every day and you do it as a team. You get through it and you get ready for the season, so … no complaints.”
If his legs could speak, they might have a different story.
They have recovered by now, five games into the regular season, but it definitely took some time. It might have played a role in a subdued preseason for the 30-year-old, who had a career-high 60 points on 22 goals and 38 assists last season for the Red Wings and San Jose Sharks.