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Shayne Corson Talks Mental Health, Malkin Talks Kessel and Who’s Coming to Sens Camp

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It’s time for the Thursday News and Notes

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NHL: JUN 25 Senators Development Camp Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Today, friends! Today is the day that we’ve all been waiting for: the Ottawa Senators kick off training camp for the 2019-20 season. Last season’s debacle feels like an eternity ago and all the usual giddiness of a new season is upon us.

  • Speaking of Sens’ training camp, the team has released a full list of this year’s attendees. No surprise PTOs to speak of this year, but I expect to see some intriguing battles for a spot in the opening night line-up nonetheless. Maybe the player with the most to prove in this year’s camp is Max Lajoie: the young defenseman was one of the biggest surprises at the start of last year but by the time the season ended it seemed like Christian Wolanin had clearly surpassed him on the organization’s depth chart. With the addition of Ron Hainsey and Erik Brannstrom, Lajoie is fighting an uphill battle to carve out a spot for himself on the NHL squad. I’ll be keeping a close eye on him.
  • The team also announced which three players will be wearing the “A” this year, Mark Borowiecki, Ron Hainsey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Sticking to an all-veteran leadership isn’t necessarily the wrong approach, but it does makes the phrase “interim leadership” comes to mind.
  • Peter Mendelsohn had a sobering feature on Shayne Corson earlier this week for the Athletic. Corson opened up to Mendelsohn about his struggles with anxiety and depression. The former Leaf, and great Sens antagonist, lost his father just a few years into his NHL career and suffered tremendously during his time in the league. A key passage:

The Barrie, Ont., native desperately wanted to play well for the Leafs. Shortly after signing in Toronto, he began feeling anxiety.

While still in Montreal that summer, Corson woke up one night in the early hours of the morning. His heart was racing. Before he knew it, he was curled up on the floor on all fours.

“I thought I was dying. I thought I was having a heart attack,” Corson says. “I was almost paralyzed, lying on the floor, and sweating like a dog.”

His wife, Kelley, called Dr. David Mulder, the Canadiens head physician, who quickly came over. After assessing Corson and speaking with him for a while, Dr. Mulder told him he’d just had a panic attack.

“That was the very first one,” Corson says. “At the time, you don’t really know what they are.”

The mental health challenges faced by professional athletes are just now starting to break into the public conversation. I strongly recommend giving this piece a read.

  • Rob Rossi dropped a lengthy profile of Evgeni Malkin on Tuesday. The reclusive Russian star talks candidly, and at length, about a variety of topics, including: his relationship with coach Mike Sullivan, his relationship with Phil Kessel (you might have heard it was frosty!), his future plans, and his off-season regimen. Rossi went to Moscow to conduct at least some of the interviews and it clearly paid off because I can’t remember the last time Malkin was so open with the media.
  • Former Senator Matt Duchene was profiled by Emily Kaplan over at ESPN and there are lots of interesting little bits, but I particularly liked his answer to a question about coaching:

ESPN: What attributes do you think a modern NHL coach has to have?

Duchene: You want to command respect but do it in a respectful way. I don’t think there’s a place in our game, because we’re all grown men, and we’re all doing our best -- well, most of the time we’re all doing our best or should be -- and I don’t think disrespect is a good thing. I think the best coaches have a way of demanding from their players in a respectful way. I think empowerment, showing that belief in your team and that empowerment in your team. I’ve had times where I felt like I was playing against my coach more than I was playing against the other team. You’re never going to get out of your team what you can with that.

  • Last but not least, Sens Fan Fest will be taking place this Saturday at the Canadian Tire Centre. Full event details can be found here. Admission is free and the players will be on hand to mingle with the fans and sign some autographs.