Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous Hockey’ Category

Kelowna Chiefs training at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc

It’s getting to that time of year again. Teams that didn’t make playoffs are cleaning out their lockers and starting to make their way home. Even the players who did make it into the playoffs are through one round and possibly set to begin the next. Read the rest of this entry »

I like movies and I like hockey. So naturally I was excited to hear a hockey movie was coming about the fighter on a team.

And when I heard that Stiffler from the American Pie movies would be playing the lead role I thought this could be really funny.

But whether the movie is funny or not has nothing to do with the fact that this movie is going to miss big time when it comes to protraying the fighter in hockey.

Why would I say this? Or better yet, how could I say this when I haven’t even see the movie? Well for a number of reasons. Here are my Top 5 Reasons the Movie ‘Goon’ Will Miss when it comes to protraying the fighter in hockey.

Reason #1 – Can’t Skate

In the movie Stiffler’s character is not a hockey player. He doesn’t even know how to skate. Apparently the producers of the movie liked the fact Sean William Scott (who plays the goon) couldn’t skate himself which allowed for a more genuine portrayal of the goon.

Don’t fall for this. You will not advance to any level of professional hockey these days if you can’t skate regardless of what a movie tells you.

Reason #2 – One Dimensional

The movie portrays the goon as a player with one purpose. To be a presence, to intimidate and to fight if called upon. This may be very similar to the responsilities of the fighter on any team.

But in real life it doesn’t end there. Take for example the players with the most fighting majors in the NHL this season. Scott Thornton has a Stanley Cup ring with the Bruins. And Brandon Prust is with the Rangers atop the Eastern Conference this year. Both players also chip 20-30 points a year.

Even if you’re a fighter you need to be able to contribute in other ways as these two guys are.

Reason #3 – You Need to Be Missing Teeth

Maybe back in the 70s or 80s it was more common to recognize hockey players by their missing teeth and scars. But now with cosmetic surgery, mouth guards and advanced medical facilities within main areans there is no reason to be walking around without a full set of bright white choppers.

Plus you are more likely to be missing teeth from a stick or a deflection as opposed to blocking a couple of knuckle sandwiches with your face.

Reason #4 – Can’t Be Educated

In the movie Scott’s character comes from a family of intellectuals and he is not. He is therefore the outcast and apparently is perfectly suited as the enforcer on his team.

True, there is no minimum IQ requirement to drop the gloves and go with someone. But the stereotype that these guys are all dummies is old.

I can recall discussing movies, travel, literature and many other topics with the fighers I’ve trained. Some liked to do Sudoku puzzles. Others were into cards. And almost all of them were as quick witted as could be. I’ve always considered a quick sense of humour a sign of intelligence.

Don’t fall for the stereotype that all fighters are dummies.

Reason #5 – Not the Same on Ice

Have you ever heard of football teams trying out world class sprinters as wide receivers or to return kicks? Rarely works, doesn’t it?

Just because you’re good at something in one dimension doesn’t mean it translates to all. In this case the Goon is a bouncer at a bar. And we’re to make the connection that he’s a good fighter at the bar therefore he’ll make a good fighter on a hockey team. Doubtful.

If you’ve been in a hockey fight or worked with players who have you’ll know this a totally different beast. The difference in surface should be an obvious one. But there’s also the element of trying to tie up your opponent’s arms and trying not to land too many punches on the side of your opponent’s helmet. Add to that the fact you may have just completed a hard 40 second shift and still have stitches from your last fight. Not really the conditions of a bar fight, is it?


I’ll still go to the Goon. And I’m sure I’ll laugh. The directors and producers are sure to include as many hockey stereotypes in the movie for effect. Hopefully you’ll see it as entertainment and how far from the mark it is to what a real hockey fighter is like.



I love going to movies. And it doesn’t really matter what’s playing. It’s a great chance to sit back and be entertained for a couple of hours. Sometimes the product is great and other times it was just a fun way to step away from training and work and relax for bit.

Recently I went and saw Moneyball with Brad Pitt. I thought this was a great show but I can understand why some baseball fans would be put off by the story. If you haven’t seen it here’s a quick synopsis.

Oakland is a small market MLB team with the same aspirations of every other team in the league which is to win a World Series. However the constraints of playing in a smaller marker mean less revenue is available to draw, sign and keep the top talent in the game.

As the A’s continue to lose top level players to free agency and fat pay cheques elsewhere they begin using a new system for building a team. They start selecting players based on a computer program that identifies on base percentage, amongst other things. Oh yeah, the program also breaks down the statistics of the players with their contracts so it becomes very clear to choose undervalued players, based on this computer model, and build a successful team.

In the end A’s are quite successful with this approach but never win it all. Other teams notice what they are doing and begin drafting, trading and signing players based on this method also.

But would this work in hockey?

Could you use a computer program to build the best team possible for the best value? These goals translate all sports. It doesn’t matter the game. Every owner and GM is trying to win a championship without having to break the bank.

If we were to build this computer program to identify the best, hidden talent out there what would we want to put on the list?

Now let’s remember for a second that we need to find players that may become great one day but are available for a dime. So we can’t load up on Ovechkins or Crosbys. The problem with these types of players is that everyone knows they are awesome and therefore we can’t afford them.

So what attributes do we look for in a player to find untapped potential?

Do we look for the best physical specimens? Or the ones who put team first?

Where do you start when putting your list together? Can you find players in ECHL such as Alex Burrows who will one day play on the top line of a Stanley Cup finalist team?

Are there any other Zetterberg’s out there available for the draft?

Recently a research article identified a number of physical characteristics that translate to on-ice performance at the NHL level. Do we simply evaluate potential players to see how they score on these abilities?

What would you do if you were the GM of an NHL team and were given the task of creating a moneyball system for hockey? What would your list of criteria look like? And in addition to the criteria you identify give an example of a player you would draft, sign or go after to have on your team.

I look forward to your answers in the comments section.


So what do you think about all the talk of head injuries in the media lately?

Are head injuries on the rise? Or are we simply getting better at diagnosing when someone has an injury? Or maybe as the salaries of the players keep getting bigger teams are realizing the need to protect their investment?

Case in point…

Reebok recently sponsored a conference on head injuries attended by the NHL, AHL, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey. Reebok coincidentally has a $10 million endorsement deal with Crosby who’s been sidelined with an injury since January.

But besides the increased imaging technologies to detect head injuries and the monetary value of the contracts associated with the top tier hockey players why are we seeing more head injuries?

Part of it has to do with the speed of the game.

Right now old-time players around North America are flipping over in their rocking chairs as I make the claim the game is faster today than it has ever been.

Here’re 4 reasons why.

1. The players are bigger, stronger and can generate higher levels of force than they could a generation ago. A stronger player has the capacity to generate force in less time and thus is more powerful.

2. The tactical aspect of the game has changed. Think back to the time of Bobby Orr or even Paul Coffee. Players used to be able to wind up around their goal and then go all the way weaving through the opposition.

Now it’s more of a game of dump and chase. Or a long pass from the red line that is deflected into the opponent’s end in order to get in a chance. Or a shoot in on a powerful to control the perimeter and set up a scoring chance.

3. The energetics of the game have changed. Not so many years ago it wasn’t uncommon for a star player to be on the ice for one or two minute shifts. And this wasn’t because they were caught out there during a penalty kill. Instead this was the regular length of a shift.

Now how fast do you think you can go if you had to last for 2 minutes. 80%? 90%? Maybe 95%?

Whatever that top end time limit was it definitely wasn’t your 100% and meant going much less than your top speed. Compare this to today’s shifts where players are looking to head to the bench after 40 seconds. Can you see how a shorter shift lends itself to being able to go faster than a longer one?

4. The rules of the game have changed. Previous to the last collective bargaining agreement defencemen used to be able to clear opponents out from in front of the net. And players skating through the neutral zone would feel the tug on on their jersey or a slight hook of a stick to disrupt their timing.

Not anymore. All of the tricks that were previously used to slow up an opponent have been dealt with as a result of new rules for officials to call any attempts to impede the flow of the game.

So in the end you’ve got bigger, faster players that are using a dump and chase style of play where the refs are looking to ensure the speed of the game is not disrupted.

Is it any surprise head injuries are on the rise?

Especially when you consider one of the young stars of the game never uses a protective device that would help absorb much of the force of a head injury if he ever suffered one.

Unfortunately for these reasons head injuries are here to stay and will only increase in severity and number.


Here’s an email I got one from one of our pros recently wondering about the use of thermogenics.

Hi Chris,
Whats up brother?  I am down in the states playing in *******.  One more grueling month left in the season…14 games in 25 days and than the playoffs.  I have a question for you.  There are a bunch of guys on my team taking those Thermogenics before the game and I have tried them and have felt quite good….really good legs and stamina.  I just wanted your opinion on them…positive and negative. Maybe this could be one of your next blogs.  I hope all is well and look forward to catching up as soon as I head back to Kelowna.

What a great question! This  is exactly the kind of things I want to be able to help hockey players with.

Is this something that is going to give me an advantage?

Is it safe/legal to do so?

How does it accomplish this?

Let’s take a little time and answer these 3 questions about thermogenics.

We’ll start first with what a thermogenic is.

Thermogenics can literally be broken down into 2 parts: thermo referring to heat and genics referring to the creation of something. So a thermogenic is a compound that generates heat.

But how does it generate heat?

Thermogenics contain a stimulant, or sometimes more than one, which act on the nervous system, in this case the sympathetic nervous system. Stimulation of the nervous system results in increased heart rate, respiration and overall metabolic activity. The energy produced as a result of the higher activity level is disipated as heat.

Because of the effectiveness of thermogenics in raising metabolic rate and thus burning more calories you’ll understand the popularity of thermogenic supplements in the fat/weight loss industry.

But are they safe?

Here’s where it gets tricky. Prior to 2004 a common thermogenic ‘stack’ was ECA which involved ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin. Since 2004 ephedrine has been banned by the FDA for all dietary usage.

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Belcher is one of many athletes whose deaths has been linked to the use of ephedrine.

Are there any other ingredients in common thermogenics?

Besides ephedra aka ephedrine or ma huang you may also come across the following:

Caffeine – This can be an effective ergogenic aid. It has been shown to aid in glycogen replenishment post-workout. There is the potential for disrupted sleep if over consumed.

Citrus aurantium (bitter orange or synephrine) - This fruit contains stimulant properties and has become more popular since the ban on ephedrine. As the research can sometimes follow real world activity by 5-10 years there isn’t a lot of data on bitter orange. Those with heart conditions or high  blood pressure would be best to stay away.

Willow bark – This is what the Chinese used for aspirin and would chew on the bark of the tree to relieve pain and inflammation. As this was an original component of the ECA stack it has remained popular as ephedra use has been made illegal. One reason this may be popular with hockey players is the analgesic effect it may have on skeletal muscles thereby impairing the physical discomfort of intense exercise.

Guarana – Similar to coffee in that it containts caffeine the difference is in the slower release which prevents the subsequent crash sometime associated with caffeine use. The same cautions with caffeine use should be applied here as well.

Specific cautions

As I’ve already mentioned those with heart conditions should avoid the use of thermogenics. Included with this would be those who have high blood pressure. If you are someone who has difficulty sleeping caffeine and guarana will only make this more difficult. Lastly, aspirin has anti-clotting properties and will prevent blood clotting should you become cut during a game or practice.

Final word on thermogenics

Because the research is years behind the actual practice of supplementation I would be reluctant to give our hockey players an ‘all clear’ when it comes to thermogenics.

Additionally as many supplements are not classified as drugs they do not have the same scrutiny or DIN associated with them. There is the possibility of cross contamination or excessive levels which could be dangerous or result in a positive drug test.

If you do decide to take a thermogenic make sure you speak to your doctor first. Be aware of all the side and be clear of your family history as it relates to cardiovascular health and hypertension.