Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Cup’

 When I say ‘Model Success’ this isn’t what I mean.

We’re all familiar with the expression ‘to learn from our mistakes’.

And this sometimes encourages people to forge ahead before they have the best information. This can lead to wasted time and, obviously, mistakes.

A better option would be to model success.

With that in mind I have taken some time to sit with Sean Skahan who is the strength and conditioning coach for the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL. While under his coaching the Ducks have won a Stanley Cup and were represented by 8 players at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

I think it’s safe to say his programs generate success on the ice. So to model some of Sean’s success I asked him a number of questions about this training methodologies.

Read on to find out Sean’s answers and model his success.

5. What are some things you wished players did a little less?

Sean didn’t have too much to say here. I guess this is a testament to the fact that he has earned the respect of this players and they don’t veer too far away fro whar he wants them to do.

Earlier in his career there was the occasional challenge of hockey players doing too much cardio for their off-season training. This might take a variety of forms but basically came down to long, aerobic conditioning.

Another challenge from earlier on was to have hockey players head home for the summer and do their own thing. They may enlist the help of coach or trainier in their area but this individual had different ideas about what these players were going to work on.

6. With the recent increase in head injuries in the NHL are the Ducks doing any specific related to this?

Sean does include some neck specific work for his players but admitted that head injuries are a part of the game. If a player suffers any type of head injury here is a very strict protocol that is followed involving various levels of the team’s medical staff. He did make one interesting comment about neck training and head injuries and that was to say no amount of neck training is going to off-set an opponent’s speed.

7. Another question I had for Sean involed the level of intensity used during lifting movements. There is some debate as to how heavy a player should lift. Some coaches like their hockey players to leave it all on the weight room floor. Others want to see them approach a max but be just under it.

Sean’s take on this was the load was secondary to the form of the lift. He wants the last rep to be excellent, just like the first rep.

In this regard I see what he is saying. It would be worse for a hockey player to use a submaximal load with terrible form than to attempt a 1 RM with excellent form.

8. Next I picked Sean’s brain about shoulder development. This is another area where you will find varying opinions from coaches as to whether or not they overhead press their hockey players.

While he didn’t express a hard rule for overhead pressing he did stress the importance they place on posterior shoulder work. They spend some time doing face pulls and going through their YLTW patterns.

Stay tuned for Part III in this series where I pick an NHL s&c coach’s brain for your benefit.


What do you think of the Sedins?

If you’re a Canucks fan you’ll probably wish they were triplets.

I’m somewhere in between. I cheer for the ‘Nucks because they’re the home team and are exciting to watch.

But I’m not completely sold on the twins. I admit I have more faith in them than a well-known Vancouver sports broadcaster that refers to them as ‘the sisters’.

So what’s my problem with the Sedins? A number of things. They don’t kill penalties. They’re not tough. And they can be drawn into a style of game where they don’t excel and costs their team in the end.

But this year they are getting it done.

They are 1-2 in league scoring on the top team in the league.

And they’re getting it done in an impressive fashion.

What I mean by that is that coach AV keeps their shifts in check. He doesn’t let his players stay out there too long. And he doesn’t ride his top guns too much.

Smart guy.

Let’s look at the evidence to see how this compares to other top players.

The Sedins average 18:32 & 19:18 of ice time per game and shifts of 46 seconds.
Jonathan Toews averages 2 minutes more per game at 20:37.
Eric Staal is over 22 minutes at 22:04.
Ovechkin is at 21:24 per game.
And before he got hurt Crosby was just under 22 minutes at 21:55.

So what’s the point? Well there are three major ones.

1. The Sedins will have more in the tank come late May

The NHL playoffs are a gruelling grind. Especially if a team has to go through one or more 7 game series in order to advance. The teams that are battling hard right now just to get into the playoffs will be hard pressed to sustain this intensity for the next 8-10 weeks.

History has already proven this when the Flames & Oilers had to batttle to grab the 8th seed in the west only to run out of gas in the Finals.

Don’t think this amount of ice time matters? Consider that Ovechkin plays almost 20% more minutes than the Sedins do this will add up over time.

2. The shorter the interval the higher the intensity

If you had to demonstrate your top skating speed to a scout would you want to skate:

a. 60 minutes non-stop with no rest?


b. 30 seconds with 2 to 3 minutes rest between efforts?

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it.

AV does a good job of encouraging quick changes and keeping intensity up. The longer you stay out there the lower your intensity becomes.

3. Reduced chance of injury

There’s no way of preventing Crosby’s injury other than if he wasn’t on the ice at the time he got hit. And this is a key advantage for the Sedins.

Not only are their minutes closely managed to maintain intensity but being on the ice for less total time reduces the potential for injury.

4. More balanced team attack

There are a number of cliches related to team play in order to hoist the Cup. And if you rely too heavily on one key guy or line it is easy for the opposing coach to match lines and try and shut down this treat.

By keeping the Sedins minutes in check it allows for a more balanced team approach to winning. And AV is able to distribute the minutes more freely knowing the Sedins are generating a better return on investment considering their points, face-offs won, +/- and team wins relative to their total ice team.

It will be interesting to see how this factors into the playoffs.

Will the teams chasing a playoff spot burn out?

Will the top players with high level minutes feel the fatigue set in sooner?

Will being exposed to more minutes in tight-checking, intense games increase the number of injuries?

We’ll have to wait to see what the answers to these questions are. In the meantimes steal a page out of AVs playbook at look to make each effort high intensity, short and productive.


The NHL season is now in full swing.  And as part of opening weekend the Vancouver Canucks used this as an opportunity to celebrate their 40th anniversary. During the pre-game show the Canucks brought out the original members of the 1stever Canucks team. At one point during the ceremony the initial captain Orland Kurtenbach called on Henrik Sedin to come forward. This was to symbolize the passing of the torch from the 1st to the newest captain of the current version of the team.
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