With several returning players talking about how this is "their year", with it has to come the realization that just because you say it is doesn't hold much water. It still has to be earned, it still has to be worked for. Nothing will come easy.
I suspect that message will be delivered very early in training camp meetings by the coaching staff.
Veterans consider this your early warning... perform and be leaders or expect the young players to take your spot and your role. Every year at camp Dean calls out some of the veteran players for their lack of effort or enthusiasm and I'm betting he will not hesitate to do it again.
With youngsters like Joel Rodgers, James Martin, David Greyeyes, Justin Dowling, Cody Eakin, Scott Macauley, Mike Brown, Kris Foucault and Brad Hoban all vying for a spot on this year's team, the veterans are either in... or in the way. Sure it seems harsh but that's the reality of junior hockey and always has been.
I haven't seen a list of training camp attendees and could be missing some names, but a little simple math shows a log jam at defense and forward. Lets take a look.
DEFENSE - R.J. Larochelle, Mike Wilson, Spencer McAvoy, Paul Postma, Eric Doyle, Ryan Molle, Derek Claffey, Joel Rodgers, James Martin, and David Greyeyes - that's 10. Plus, you have to think at least one of the free agents the Broncos bring in will also make a solid impression which will keep him around for an extended look.
FORWARD - Brady Leavold, Kyle Bortis, Dale Wiese, Levi Nelson, David Stieler, Zack Smith, Matt Tassone, Phil Gervais, Geordie Wudrick, Jan Dalecky, Grant Toulmin, Cody Eakin, Justin Dowling, Mike Brown, Scott Macauley, Kris Foucault, and Brad Hoban - that's 17. Now, throw in a couple free agents and you can see there will be some tough decisions ahead.
See you at the rink,