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Sean Leahy

Thrashers get their Rocky on in summertime trend for brawlers

Sean Leahy
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Back in olden times, athletes would use their off-season in either two ways. They might have to get a job to help make ends meet for their families, or they used their free time like any of us would by traveling and relaxing.

Times have changed and athletes are no longer using training camps as a way to get in shape and are instead creating off-season workout plans to ensure they'll have a roster spot for the upcoming season.

Workouts consists mostly of cardio and strength training with flexibility work as well, but some NHL'ers have added a "scientific" approach to their off-season regimes and have included the sweet science of boxing as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore found out.

Atlanta Thrashers forwards Eric Boulton(notes) and Chris Thorburn(notes) have been working with a boxing trainer again this summer and while the pair are seeing the results of the workouts, they're enjoying bettering themselves with their fists:

"Hockey fighting is a lot different [than boxing]," said Boulton, the team's foremost pugilist. "But it helps with combinations. You don't get a lot of combinations in a hockey fight, but it does happen.

"The biggest thing is confidence. Confidence is huge. Going in, if you know you can knock someone's head off, that's huge in a hockey fight."

Improving their pugilistic skills is something that more and more tough guys are starting to do.

Every team needs an enforcer for their superstar players and if you can't light up the score sheet, providing protection is one way to ensure job security. Darcy Hordichuk(notes), in his days with the Florida Panthers, used to train with former heavyweight boxing champion Michael Moorer. The possible current heavyweight champion of the NHL, Georges Laraque(notes), has taken Zach Stortini of the Edmonton Oilers under his wing.

Others, like Riley Cote(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers, use Mixed Martial Arts training and in the case of the Philadelphia tough guy, might be looking down the road at a career option.

It looks as if the simple ways of the goon are no more. Tough guys are getting skilled instruction on how to better perform when their numbers are called and improve their numbers.

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