ST. LOUIS - Before taking the ice for the start of training camp this week, Blues players were put through several rigorous fitness tests to examine their conditioning levels.
Take the assault bike, for example.
Ride one mile as fast as you can. Take a three-minute break. Ride another mile as fast as you can, then take another three-minute break. Ride one more mile as fast as you can.
To pass the test, your time on the bike has to be less than 6 minutes and 20 seconds.
"We had athletes get closer to 5 minutes, 45 seconds than they were to six minutes. That's a really impressive number," said Blues Strength and Conditioning Coach Eric Renaghan. "That's a really telling sign of how well-conditioned our athletes are."
Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson posted the best time in the assault bike test, riding three miles in 5 minutes and 50 seconds.
"That was the fastest time I've seen in my nine years in the NHL," Renaghan said.
So how did Edmundson do it?
"I just went to spin class back home," he said. "I'd go there, do a 50-minute ride and I'd walk out of there absolutely drenched. For the test here, I just got my rest the day before, came in here and laid it all on the line. I couldn't walk for 15 minutes after that ride. It's a hard test, and I'm happy it's over with.
"There were a bunch of guys who got under six minutes, which is pretty incredible," Edmundson added. "I think the test was in everyone's mind throughout the whole summer. That was the talk in the dressing room leading up to camp and we're all happy it's over with."
Immediately after the assault bike, players were put through tests to measure their power wattage output while fatigued as well as their strength and explosiveness by taking force plate measurements. Colton Parayko performed best on the wattage testing, while Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Thorburn were among those who exhibited the strongest force test metrics.
As for biggest improvement overall in the tests? That distinction belongs to Thorburn.
"I had a great summer of training," he said. "I stayed in town here and trained at our facility with our training staff. Both Eric and (Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach) Robby Campbell put me on a good program tailored around what my game needed, which is power, speed and cardio. I owe a lot to them. I didn't have to do much except for show up and do what I was told."
Overall, the test results proved to be quite impressive all around, which shows the tremendous work the players put in during the offseason to be ready for 2018-19.
"It's definitely exciting to see those results, but at the end of the day, the players are the ones that put in the work," said Campbell. "We give them the blueprint for success and when they're able to follow it through, it's really gratifying."
"I can't remember a camp when everyone showed up in this good of condition," Thorburn added. "Our exit meeting last year wasn't what we wanted with missing the playoffs. (General Manager Doug Armstrong) said this was going to be a tough camp this year and I think guys took that to heart.
"We're on a mission and guys have started on the right track, so hopefully that carries on."