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The Combine Explained

by Abigail Seaver / Boston Bruins -- Since it is not exactly a spectator event, and much of the "action" happens behind closed doors, the NHL Scouting Combine can be a confusing event for fans and reporters alike.

Future Boston College Eagle Kevin Hayes, who skated for Nobles last season, is a NHL prospect and Massachusetts native. He gave a detailed account for what really goes on during the testing.

“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” said Hayes who was still out of breath from finishing the combine when he spoke to the press on Friday. “I’ve been training eight weeks.”

Hayes described how the combine begins slowly with them taking measurements such as weight, weight, and body fat percent and grip strength.

“The grip strength test was a lot harder then I thought it was going to be,” said Hayes with a very slight laugh.

The tests that followed would remind you of a high school gym class fitness test, just intensified. These included the standard push-ups, sit-ups, and the sit-and-reach test.

The gregarious Hayes, who said he is a big Bruins fan, was not shy in explaining to the gathered media this was harder then it looked.

“The beat [for the push-ups] was a lot longer then I thought it would be,” said Hayes. “And the sit ups...[and] the 150 pound bench press were set to a beat.”

The vertical jump game next, followed by the one-kilo ball toss – both meant to test the candidates explosive strength.

One of the most difficult tests that the prospects have to go through is the VO2. The bike-based test (one of two grueling stationary bike exams) lasts for 30 seconds and is challenging for everyone involved.

“So I sat [on the bike] for a few minutes just going [with a nose plug],” Hayes starting to explain. “Then they stick a tube down your mouth.

"I’m not sure if you guys have seen if before but it’s pretty awkward and pretty big.

“They put it in your mouth and you have to bite down on it or it will fall out and you will have to start over.”

The tubing is meant to check his CO2 and oxygen levels that are important check for the endurance of the candidate.

“It’s pretty easy for the first two minutes," he said. "You have to keep 70 REPS per minute.
"The first four minutes were pretty easy, next two minutes not too bad.

"Once eight minutes past it got pretty hard,” he said.

When the VO2 test is done the prospect must go and take a computer coordination test, which then allows them some relaxation.

But what are some of the hardest combine moments for Hayes?

“They don’t tell you any of the results from the test, they just write them down,” said Hayes after commenting on how nervous he was to be around so many GMs and coaches.

“It’s pretty awkward.”

But Hayes admitted that the hardest test of the week may have occured during the interview portion of the combine.

What could be more nerve wracking than the dreaded VO2? Being interviews by Boston Bruins Hockey Hall of Famer Cam Neely, of course.

“It’s pretty awkward with Cam Neely staring you down across the table,” Hayes said with a smile.

“And with Peter Chiarelli in there it was pretty amazing.”
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