Are preseason games really worth it?
Though not as exciting as the regular season, preseason games are vital to any sport.
SAIT athletic director and Trojans men’s hockey coach Ken Babey utilizes preseason games to get his team into shape, and to figure out where his team is at physically and mentally.
“Because we play so few league games, it’s the only time for us to get into game shape,” said Babey. “Preseason is a good time to test where you’re at as a team and for coaches to see what they have.”
Cameron Wendt, a second-year radio, television and broadcast news student, doesn’t see the point of the preseason.
“I feel like they are just a formality that we have to suffer through until the regular season begins,” Wendt said.
Although some sports fans might agree with Wendt that preseason games are not for fans, Babey dismissed the notion that the games are strictly for players and coaches.
“Fans want to come out and see what the product is. From an importance factor it’s not as important as regular season or playoffs obviously, but I still think it’s new to them,” said Babey. “It’s a new season and everyone’s excited; it’s 50-50.”
According to Babey, the preseason is a time where “bubble” players have a chance to make or break their season, and the new players have a limited window to showcase their skills and make the team.
Additionally, many returning players still need to prove that they belong on the team, as no one gets a free ride.
“There have been a lot of guys that have been successful players here,” said Babey. “They started on the bubble and worked their way into the lineup, and by the playoffs and championships, some of those guys have been key players down the stretch.”
Returning players see preseason games as an important time to get back into shape and shake off the rust.
Third-year men’s hockey forward, Brad Drobot, believes developing a team is a challenge, and the more time to develop it, the better.
“Conditioning is huge, it’s very important that we get conditioned before the season begins, and these games help us do that,” said Drobot, who feels conditioning is a key part of the preseason.
“It’s difficult. We have a big turnover this year, only seven players returning,” said Drobot. “Chemistry is always an issue, so the more games we have at the beginning, the better off we’re going to be.”
Second-year forward Sam Mitchell shares the same sentiments as Drobot, but adds that the preseason can be hard on players.
“It’s tough seeing guys get cut. They played here the year before, you’ve known them from previous years, but that’s the business of hockey,” said Mitchell. “In terms of building relationships, it all goes pretty quick.”
WHL player Boston Leier, who is beginning his third full season as forward for the Medicine Hat Tigers, said preseason games are vital for himself, and the rest of the team.
“The preseason is huge; you get the early advantage of getting on the ice and getting the feel of everything again,” said Leier. “You get back into the systems, get to play with line mates and develop chemistry, see new guys on the team and see what other teams have in store.”
Ask any player or coach in any league and any sport, preseason games are just as important as a regular season game and in some ways, more important.
While fans aren’t the number one priority of preseason games, they can still be fun to attend. They offer a first glimpse at highly touted rookies and prospects, and in many situations, reduced ticket prices.
A preseason game is the necessary stretch before a gruelling workout.
Catch the SAIT Trojans men’s hockey team’s final tune-up games during the Eye-Opener Tournament, at the SAIT Campus Arena on Friday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. Final scores and rosters for both women and men’s teams can be found at saittrojans.com.