Thursday, 11 June 2015

Off-season training: It's not where a NHL player trains, it's how hard he trains.

Gary Roberts apparently runs a great off-season training program in Toronto for NHL players.   He gets great press from a lot of sources, and the fans have taken note.  Some of them seem to think it's first-class, and not attending his facility and following his methods is tantamount to negligence for a professional hockey player.

But it's not the only way to go.  P.K. seems to be doing well with Clarence Laylor in Toronto.  Max trains with Ben Prentice and gets great results too, it's the same gym where Martin St-Louis trains and obtained his ESPN magazine physique.

Looking on YouTube, Kris Letang trains in Montréal at the same gym where George St-Pierre trains at, and Bokondji Imama is training there already this spring, he's Instagramed some pictures.

There's more than one way to skin a cat.  Some of these trainers/gyms/programs might be better for one athlete than it is for another, but I think the differences are marginal.  The biggest factor by far in my mind is the dedication, the intensity with which one trains.

Pierre Allard also deserves a nod.  The kids rave about the programs and the attention they get from the Canadiens' staff.  Mr. Allard is a former hockey pro who went back to school to get his kinesiology degree, and rapidly moved up to the top of his profession due to his results.

Also, and I've posted on this before, the Canadiens have been avoiding injuries for a few seasons now.  I remember when the Canadiens were struck with so many injuries you thought they'd crossed a wrathful deity at some point.  Pretty much at the same time, the Canadiens changed their rock-hard rink board and glass system in Brossard and the Nouveau Forum for one with more 'give', and they released their entire training staff, and hired Pierre Allard, and some new physio guys.

From one season to the next, my sense is the Canadiens have been remarkable healthy, no more hamstring pulls and bulging disks and other ailments like that.  They used to set records for man-games lost, now they're at the bottom of the standings for that.

We gripe about how the Canadiens get so many days off, how many times Michel Therrien chooses to rest his guys.  Sure, the NHL CBA-mandated days-off clause triggers quite a few of those, but the Habs go above and beyond, some of the optional practice/light skate days surprise us.

I don't think this is done in a vacuum though.  I'm strongly inclined to believe that the training staff is on top of this, they know when to push the boys, when to ease off and let them recuperate, based on objective measures, the testing and measuring they do.

So if Devante Smith-Pelly or other Toronto boy goes to train with Gary Roberts, great stuff, I'll applaud, but any gym with a qualified trainer will do.  Work on your explosiveness Devo, work out intensely, on your stamina.  Lean up a bit if that's what Pierre Allard and the coaches want.

But it's not where you sweat, it's how much you sweat that's the important factor.

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