To prepare for the season, some players hit the gym to put on weight. Others run or skate to improve their conditioning.
Avalanche prospect Kelsey Tessier didn’t think that was quite enough, and decided to travel to Austria to train with some of the world’s top athletes, undergoing a series of meticulous tests multiple times per day to determine his maximum athletic output.
To each his own.
Tessier, who is in the beginning stages of his fourth year with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, went to Europe for six weeks during the offseason to train at the Red Bull facility with some of the world’s top athletes in an effort to take his game to new heights.
“It was a great experience,” said Tessier. “The technology is more advanced than what we see in North America. I did a lot of biking and trained Monday through Friday, twice a day. They do a lot of blood tests to see if you’re working out properly, and everything is really right down to the dot.”
|After serving as an assistant captain last season, Tessier was named Quebec's captain heading into the 2009-10 campaign |
The center, who received the opportunity to train in the mountains of Austria through a connection his agent held, says he definitely feels different than he has ever felt at the start of a season.
“You see your results, so you know what you need to improve on,” said the 5-foot-9, 168-pound forward. “They really break it down for you. I received more education about my own body and what I need to do to get better.”
Part of the reason Tessier traveled to Austria to train was based on his performance from the 2008-09 season. Although his 60-point output (25g/35a) was certainly nothing to scoff at, those numbers were down from the 36 goals and 45 points he recorded in 2007-08.
“Last year wasn’t my best season. I just wasn’t consistent,” said Tessier. “I had a little bit of a hard time coming back from pro camp and going into the season in the ‘Q’. I just found it hard to adapt at first. But I had a great playoff run when it counted and we went to the semifinals. I’ve learned from my mistakes last year.”
Now, he hopes all of his hard work in the offseason translates to the ice.
In Quebec, Tessier plays for legendary goaltender Patrick Roy – a coach he describes as a great leader who knows what it takes to win.
“He’s so passionate about the game. He just loves to win,” said Tessier. “He gives us all the tools we need to win and learn, so we have no excuse not to. He treats us like kings, just like they do when we come to camp in Colorado, because that’s where he takes his example from.”
It also won’t hurt that he has another familiar face in the locker room this season.
Fellow Avalanche prospect Peter Delmas was acquired by Quebec in a trade on June 5, 2009. The pair has a relationship that dates back many years and has been forged through the game of hockey.
“I think I’ve known Pete since I was six or seven,” said the Moncton, New Brunswick native. “We were rivals all the time in hockey, but during summers we were on the same team. It was really fun. I’ve known him since I was a young guy, so it’s fun to have him in Quebec with me.”
Tessier was named the Remparts’ captain heading into the 2009-10 season, an honor he realizes will put a little more pressure on him.
While he’s looking for his scoring numbers to return to 2007-08 form, he’s also aiming to expand other parts of his game, such as working on his defensive positioning and being more active without the puck on offense.
“Off the ice every year I’ve had a bigger role,” said Tessier. “I want to lead by example, but I’ll also have a lot of help from the other veterans. Just growing from this past year and doing the small things, getting stronger every day.”
A popular saying in athletics is that “attitude equals altitude,” meaning the more dedicated and determined a player is, the higher their ceiling will be in their sport.
If Tessier’s attitude is any indication, his altitude should soon be roughly equivalent to that of the Austrian mountains where he trained over the summer.