|Team-building kicks off||07.06.10 at 3:44 pm ET|
BEDFORD — Bruins prospects struggled plenty in the morning on the first day of development camp, but based on the way their afternoon team-building activities have kicked off in Bedford, the heat was nothing.
Upon arriving at The Edge Sports Center, youngsters including Tyler Seguin, Joe Colborne, and David Warsofsky took in an hour-long presentation from Eric Kapitulik, who shared both gut-wrenching and inspiring stories from his life with the NHL hopefuls. Kapitulik, who played lacrosse at Navy, experienced a life-changing tragedy in 1999 during his time as a Marine. A helicopter crash in San Diego saw him and those under his command sink in the chopper under water as they tried to swim out while drowning. Kapitulik was one of 11 who survived, but they lost seven men in the December crash.
Kapitulik, who since has competed in eight Ironman triathlons and raised money for a scholarship to benefit the six children who lost their parents in the disaster. In speaking with the players, he addressed them as “warriors” and preached that the most important people in the room were the people to the left and right of one another. In leading workouts with the team that have ranged from pushups to flutter kicks to carrying sandbags, he continued to preach the logic, as Boston College defenseman Tommy Cross learned.
“We don’t care about you, Tommy,” Kapitulik shouted as the defenseman led the team in pushups. “All we care about are the warriors to your left and to your right.”
The team-building activities, which consisted of four quarters of what Kapitulik called “judgement day,” were certainly challenging on the players, many of whom had attended development camp in years past. Rather than counting off pushups in traditional style, whomever led the exercises (players volunteered, with Cross being the first to successfully do so — Zach Trotman tried to but was sent back to his teammates for walking) would push up, down, and up, counting one, two, and three at each move, before his teammates would yell “one” back as they pushed up again. As a result, the 17 pushups Cross led the players in to lead off the first quarter were more like 37.
“If you don’t think you can possibly do one more pushup, do one more,” Kapitulik said before the first quarter kicked off. “Then do one more.”
Colborne, the 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft, was the first prospect to get an earful from Kapitulik. After the Marine’s initial speech, which was given in a room next to the indoor turf the players then exercised on, he asked the center if he felt he could get his teammates to fold up their chairs, put them away, and be lined up on the field in 60 seconds. Colborne accepted the assignment, and when the 27 players couldn’t finish in time, Kapitulik shouted to the center that it was only his fault.
Exercises were often stopped by Kapitulik and members of the Program when players were not calling out their teammates for slipups. Though the likes of Don Sweeney and Peter Chiarelli were in attendance, the lasting image of the day might be president Cam Neely sitting by himself on a bench in the middle of the turf, completely silent as he watched the players struggle in the first 16 minutes.
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