(Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)
NHL players appear to be taking a page out of Tom Brady's book and are increasingly changing their offseason training regimens to achieve a new goal: getting faster.
As detailed by Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star, players across the league are eschewing getting more bulky and muscular to become lighter and faster.
According to Feschuk, the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins, the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, may have helped usher in a new, faster era in the NHL.
Second-year Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner, for example, decided to focus on getting quicker this offseason and did not add any weight to his lean, 6-foot, 170-pound frame.
Matt Nichol, an NHL trainer who used to work with the Maple Leafs, told Feschuk that speedy young players like Connor McDavid have also helped change the game.
"It used to be guys would come into the gym and say they wanted to do a mixed bag of, 'Get stronger, get stronger on the puck, get tougher in the corners.' This, that, and the other. Now all you hear all day long is 'Speed. Speed, I want to improve my speed.' It’s changed. Even defensemen, they used to want to have a little more armor for battling, a little more muscle. Now it’s just, 'I’ve got to find a way to keep up with Connor McDavid flying down the wing. I don’t have to worry about battling him, I can’t even catch the guy.'"
Achieving this does not just mean giving up weightlifting entirely, however. Players still focus on leg strength to create more explosion when pushing off the ice.
Additionally, Daniel Noble, Marner's trainer, told Feschuk that posture can play a big part in getting faster, as standing straighter will give players more hip extension to create more speed. To achieve this flexibility, some players have been doing yoga and Pilates.
Ben Prentiss, another NHL trainer, told Feschuk: "I always tell guys who brag about how big they are in their upper body, 'As soon as you start skating on your hands, that’s going to become a good idea.'"
It's not just the Maple Leafs — Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks told Feschuk that he's trying to regain speed from his younger days.
NHL is the latest league to jump onto this wagon. Brady, of course, says he's gotten faster and doesn't lift heavy weights because he prefers to be flexible. Stephen Curry also changed his career when he began focusing on hip and core strength and flexibility.
Hockey will always be physical, but it seems increasingly, the game is going to be played at a faster pace.
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