In case some of you readers do not know, I am a strength and conditioning coach here in Australia. Finding out what elite level football, basketball, netball, cricket and tennis players do in this country is reasonably easy. Hockey on the other hand, lets just say the lack of a strong media presence in a sports crazy country hurts a ‘new’ sport to this country.
With that in mind I thought I would ask a player I was lucky enough to meet back in 2010 on my wonderful adventure to the States for my 30th Birthday. It’s funny you know, the willingness of hockey players in giving up their time seems to be so much easier than other sports.
I must thank the Providence Bruins for giving me the opportunity to do this interview with Nick, in season you never know what kind of response you are going to get but they, and Kevin Boryczki in particular have been extremely helpful in getting this done.
I was interested in asking Nick these questions because there are a lot of NHL/AHL players like him. In the NHL, out of the NHL, team to team, never really knowing where you are going to play your next season. I felt it would make preparing physically for the year ahead difficult, so I thought I would ask:
1). You have been all over the place over the last 4 years, how has all the travel affected your training in and out of season?
A: “Not a lot. I don’t know that’s a tough quick question. You know you try to just stay on top of it; it does get a little stressed out sometimes you gotta take a day off if you just feel like you need some rest from all the moving around. So that’s the only kinda frustrating thing sometimes you wanna get in there and do something but you really gotta get your rest too. So yeah probably a little more rest than normal but it’s kinda good too, it’s nice in a way.”
2). In relation to your conditioning, what has been the biggest difference from the AHL and the NHL? Are the expectations of fitness levels different?
A: “Yes and no. Everyone’s just a little older, little sharper. It’s more mental than anything you know, some guys are out of shape up there to be honest. Not many though you know, you really can’t get by with it too often. Everybody’s just quicker, a little faster, more things like that than simply…not so much the way you look, but how strong you are, stuff like that. It’s more craftiness in your legs and you know some guys are strong in their skates but you get them in the gym they’re not necessarily strong.”
3). This might be a difficult one to answer…what has been your biggest influence with your off ice training, and have you taken anything specific away from each strength and conditioning coach you have worked with?
A: “Absolutely. I mean I trained in Calgary with this guy Doug Crouchy (?) for a long time. Went to school, Coach Miller up at Dartmouth was a great strength guy, learned a lot, learned how to really train in a lot of ways from him and now Brad at my home gym in Edmonton, Athlete’s Nation. Yeah everyone’s got their ideas, every coach I’ve had in pro, guys in Wilkes-Barre, guys in Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Phoenix, you know here, and up in Boston, they all know a lot. They’re all a little different, you gotta kinda pick what works the best for you, what gets the most out of you with your type of body and stuff like that. You gotta just stay on top of it and think of what we need and get better at it.”
4). How have you enjoyed your time in Providence?
A: “I’ve enjoyed it. We’re in a nice little neighborhood there, Wayland Square kinda near Brown, it’s nice, beautiful scenery you know, nice restaurants, fun stuff to do. The guys have been great you know, a lot of our lives here, a lot of my life at least is kind of revolved around the rink and everyone’s been great now since the Bruins have been great. So most of my time in Providence has been spent here or around the guys at least so I’ve had a great time.”
5). Did you work on anything specific through the summer in relation to your strength and conditioning?
A: “Balance and posture if that makes any sense. More strength on skates not just simply putting up a lot of weight. Being taller, I don’t know if you’ve ever done yoga but they make you stand really tall, stuff like that. I don’t do a lot of yoga, just kinda loosening up and being tall and strong and quick. It’s not necessarily just lifting weights.”
6). Who do you train with? Players, friends?
A: “Bunch of players. We have a group of about ten at home, it’s called Athlete’s Nation and it’s probably five or six guys in the NHL and then a couple minor league guys. Two or three or four guys in Europe. It’s great I played with I guess four or five of them now throughout the seasons or the last couple years. I know one of the guys from Minnesota, it’s his gym at home and I decided to join you know, him and his brother I had played with years ago in Wilkes-Barre. The Spurgeon brothers from Edmonton, I knew they work hard. I knew if they did it I’m sure it’d be good. So that’s been good. Brad Macknamer (?) is the trainer, he’s good to us. He kicks some butt but tells us to get our rest when we need it but we have a good time. We’re all kinda in the same age kinda thing, same kinda level, same kinda bubble trying to get in the door and all that, so it’s great that we all push each other in that sense.”
7). What has been the biggest challenge for you in relation to your conditioning?
A: “I’m not sure. A little bit of everything to be honest. Leg strength, endurance in a way, you know moving my feet all shift and still having energy to do something that’s not easy I guess for anyone but I wish I was better at that. It’s kinda one thing I wish I could be a little better at, the constant leg, squats and all that. You’re always moving so yeah that’s kinda tough.”
8). Thinking back to when you started your pro career in Wilkes-Barre, where do you feel you have improved the most in your conditioning?
A: “I’d say my posture and ab strength and core strength and strength on skates kinda thing more than any given weight training.”
9). Did Mike Macchioni give you any instructions on what he wanted you to do over the summer?
A: “No I hadn’t talked to any of them before the year. Different teams, usually the strength guys don’t really call you maybe if you’re a big dog up there they might. Mike’s been great though so far, I really like his ideas that we’re doing, I feel like it kinda hits what I need to hit. He’s been good.”
10). Obviously you are looking to get back to the NHL level, what do you think you need to do the make the climb back to the NHL?
A: “Stay patient and keep getting better everyday. Show up, it’s kinda a job but it’s also a fun job. So just show up and work on things, treat every game well, that’s about all you can do.”