WAKE FOREST — Ron Francis had just had his first on-ice look Sunday at the Canes' rookies at conditioning camp.
"A lot of big boys out there," said Francis, the Canes' director of hockey operations.
Mattias Lindstrom, for example. The Swedish forward is listed at 6-4 and 203 pounds, but looked bigger. Then there was defenseman Mark Alt (6-3, 199), forward Brody Sutter (6-4, 190) and goalies Frederik Andersen (6-4, 220) and Matt Mahalak (6-2, 183).
The nine skaters and three goalies -- and veteran Chad LaRose, who joined the "fun" -- were on the ice more than an hour at the Polar Ice House. That came after head trainer Pete Friesen was done with his infamous off-ice workouts that defenseman Torey Krug said included a gruelling five-mile bike sprint.
"It's good. I think the first day they're a little bit nervous with all Pete's put them through off ice," Francis said. "By the time they get to us they're a little fatigued. I thought they worked hard for us and it was a good first day."
Francis was told that Ryan Murphy, the Canes' first-round draft pick, had tweeted he was ready to pass out — before the late-afternoon skate.
"I think he's probably not the only one ready for a nap," Francis said, smiling. "That's what this is all about. We try to get them in and educate them as to just how tough it is to play at the next level."
Francis was joined on the ice by the Canes' newest assistant coach, Rod Brind'Amour, along with assistant coach Tom Barrasso and Glen Wesley, the team's director of defensemen development. Watching the skating session was general manager Jim Rutherford and assistant general manager Jason Karmanos.
Sutter, the Canes' seventh-round pick in last month's draft, called it a "pretty tough" first day.
"They put us through the paces," he said. "We had three workouts and then the ice time today. It's been tough but a good learning experience."
Sutter has two cousins in the organization — Brandon and Brett Sutter. It's expected that Brandon Sutter will agree to a new contract with the Canes, perhaps as soon as Monday.
Brody, who played for the Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) last season, said Brandon did give him a heads-up about what to expect at the conditioning camp.
"He told me he has a lot of energy -- Pete does," he said, smiling. "He showed it today. But you just have to work hard and have fun with it.
"I'll probably go to sleep around 7 tonight. Try to get 11 hours in and wake up at 6."
And go again.