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Another warning for the would-be slackers



We wrote this story a while back but it is worth repeating that coach Rick Tocchet expects his players to come to next season's training camp in shape. He repeated that after Monday's 80-minute practice, which had a lot of high-tempo drills and included a lot of teaching.

"I think we have some guys who can be pretty good NHL players, but they're not in good condition, and if you're not in good condition, you can't play for us. That's the bottom line," Tocchet said. "Our practices, even now, you can see some guys, our temp is too much for them, and they have to realize that. If you're going to play in the NHL, it's an 11 and a half month job. They have to be able to come in the next year in top shape. Like I said before, we're not waiting for anybody. We're taking off. If you're behind, there's going to be some consequences, and that's the way it's got to be."

Check tomorrow's paper for a fun story on center Zenon Konopka. You recall him from training camp, when he fought, it seemed, as many teammates as were willing. His take: "I'm not here to make friends."

But Konopka is a wild one generally. He said he has fought 20 times this season for AHL Norfolk. He was fined $500 this season for starting a pregame fight against Springfield. He said he was fined $2,500 in 2007-08 for several similar incidents while playing for AHL Syracuse.

"Asa captain, any way to motivate your team," he said. "If it takes a warmup incident once in a while, and I get fined 500 bucks, I think it's worth it."

His mentor was John Brophy, and ornery player and coach. Konopka played for Brophy in 2002-03 for ECHL Wheeling, W. Va. "He breathed that old-school mentality," Konopka said. "The biggest message he gave me is you better make an impact in a game every night. If you haven't made an impact late in a game, if you haven't blocked a shot, made a big hit, had a goal, you'd better grab someone and fight someone to make sure everybody in that building knew you played that night."

And I loved this: " It hurts me, probably, in my everyday life

And finally, Tocchet said Karri Ramo will start Tuesday against the Penguins and Thursday against the Capitals, and Mike McKenna will start the season finale Saturday in Atlanta.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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