Sidney Crosby and his trainer Andy O’Brien (who is also employed by the Penguins as their Director of Sports Science) have created quite the end-of-summer training event at altitude in Vail, Colorado the past handful of years. It’s grown in legend and scope of players in recent years.
Sean Gordon in The Athletic summed it up in an article earlier this month:
It’s an invitation-only affair, and though it’s held over a fairly short period of time (a week to 10 days), it is the biggest collection of NHL stars and superstars outside of an Olympics. And given the murky status of the NHL’s participation in the five-ring circus, maybe Crosby’s Vail residency has already slid into the top spot.
Essentially, it’s a Team Canada reunion sprinkled with all manner of All-Stars and the odd NHL MVP (Taylor Hall is a frequent guest). Thus, it is kind of a best of all the other summer NHL games, compressed into a week or so. Except with altitude training, which was O’Brien’s original justification for relocating Crosby there in late summer earlier this decade.
And like a few of the other events on this list, it stands in for a genre of summer skate: the intensive, short-term training camp-style skate at the most critical time of the offseason. Mid to late August is the final tuneup before everybody returns to their respective NHL cities for the pre-camp skates with teammates. In other words, the Vail skate is important.
They extended the invite and some of the Pens’ young players took him up on the offer with Jared McCann, Dominik Simon, Zach Aston-Reese and Erik Gudbranson participating in the exclusive event. Not bad company to keep.
Everyone looks primed for the start of training camp, and as Patric Hornqvist noted at the NHL’s media day in Sweden a couple of weeks ago - Crosby looks driven and focused to put last season’s disappointment behind him and gear up for another year. The big boys hit the ice next Friday for the first official day of camp.