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Puempel: Making Friends With A Hockey Rival

Wednesday, 06.29.2011 / 11:26 AM ET
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(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for

It’s been a ton of fun so far this week for me at Senators development camp. To get on the ice yesterday with Marc Power, the skating coach, was great. I was pretty fortunate to skate with Nick Foligno. It was just him and I on the ice and that was definitely cool. You can learn a lot from something small like that. It was a lot of fun and I’ve been having a blast.

As you might know, I had hip surgery a few months ago and while it isn’t affecting what I can do, Ottawa is kind of guiding me through this camp and treating me differently. Whatever they say, I do. (Senators goaltender) Pascal Leclaire had the same surgery, so they know the protocol and it couldn’t be a better situation for me that way. They’ve treated me great and they know how to react to something like this.

I’m rooming with Shane Prince at the hotel. We didn’t know each other too much before now, although we did play in the Top Prospects Game together. We battled each other all year — our teams play eight times a year, and the Peterborough-Ottawa rivalry in the OHL is pretty big. But we’ve started to get to know each other here and he’s a really good guy. We’ve talked a bit about the games we played against each other and there were a few stories shared. But mostly, we talk about the camp and being friends.

I’ve definitely found the training routines here to be different. They break down everything more. If someone can do a hundred squats at 400 pounds, it’s not as important as making sure you have good technique. You learn specifics about stuff like that. What I’ve learned in the past has been much more general, so I’m definitely learning so much here and I continue to learn every day.

It’s been so great to be able to learn so much and you can take a lot home with you when you leave this camp. If you learn something every day, you can make yourself better and if that’s what you do here, you’re going to be so much better off for it in the long run.