California’s NHL prospects

Several players with California ties remain in NHL training camps:

Anaheim Ducks – Defenseman Brian Salcido and winger Bobby Ryan

Atlanta – Winger Brett Sterling

Colorado – Defenseman Raymond Macias

Dallas – Forward Landon Wilson and defenseman Garrett Stafford

Detroit – Defenseman Chris Chelios

LA Kings – Center Gabe Gautheir

Nashville – Defenseman Jonathon Blum

New Jersey – Forward Ryan Murphy

NY Islanders – Right wing Richard Park

Toronto – Forwards Ryan Hollweg and Robbie Earl

Notable: Earl scored a goal in Toronto’s 7-4 victory over Buffalo on Monday night. … Gauthier played in the Kings’ 2-1 victory over St. Louis on Monday night. It was the first NHL game held in the new Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. … Detroit returned defenseman Cameron Cepek (Huntington Beach) to Prince George of the Western Hockey League. Cepek, a 2006 Montreal draft choice, had been in Red Wings camp as a free agent.

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Cepek in training camp with Red Wings

Defenseman Cameron Cepek (Huntington Beach) is attending the Detroit Red Wings training camp as a free agent.

Originally a seventh-round Entry Draft pick of  Montreal in 2006, the Canadiens did not sign the veteran Western Hockey League blue liner.

Cepek has had a busy month. On the 8th he was traded from the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. This week he played for the Red Wings’ team in the annual Traverse City (Mich.) Prospects Tournament. NHL Network broadcast the games and Cepek held his own in the action I saw.

The ageless Chris Chelios

I had an opportunity recently to interview Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, who played two years of Bantam hockey and one of Midget in Southern California.

Part of the deal was getting to watch he and a host of other NHL players go through TR Goodman’s famously torturous workouts.

Cheli’s work ethic has to be seen to be believed. When the Wings announced the 46-year-old had signed for another season, many of my hockey-playing pals responded with astonishment. I’m not taking that bait. He is one of the fittest people I’ve ever seen.

Cheli also is as focused and driven of an athlete as I’ve seen in any sport in 20 years of covering pro, college and high school athletics.

What struck me most about his training was the pace he maintained despite continuous repititions. After a summer of that, I hardly think training camp is a challenge for him.

How much longer can he play? In comments to the Detroit media last week he said he realized the Wings have a number of young defensemen they want to give minutes to this season – likely at his expense. But no matter how he tries to convince himself that’s OK, I got the impression it really isn’t.

Will he really play until he is 50? I truly think he could.

Cheli is a warrior, and like him or hate him, he lives to compete – against his body, and against others.