MONTREAL – Training camp may officially kick off on Sept. 13, but that’s news to Scott Livingston. The Canadiens' Strength and Conditioning Coordinator has been busy putting a few guys you might know through his personal boot camp all summer long.
With his favorite instruments of torture not being limited to the team gym at the Bell Centre, Livingston has pulled out everything in his bag of tricks to whip his patients into shape. Accompanying the standard gym workouts in Livingston’s customized offseason training program is a battery of dry land exercises, which saw Scott move his operation to the Concordia Stingers' home field in the west end of Montreal.
Under the watchful eye of Scott Livingston, Guillaume Latendresse guts his way through another grueling drill designed by the Canadiens' Strength and Conditioning Coordinator himself.
One-by-one, Guillaume Latendresse and Co. arrived for another grueling session with Livingston. Looking the part in his drill sergeant-like cap and sunglasses, Livingston called his troops to attention before letting the sweat begin to pour. On this day, the roster included Hamilton Bulldogs Danny Groulx and Francis Lemieux, Mathieu Dandenault, as well as Latendresse, and his big brother Olivier, a Phoenix Coyotes prospect.
“I asked the team if it would be okay if my brother trained with us this summer and they agreed,” said Latendresse. “I know how hard Olivier works and that he would push me the way he always has.”
In addition to spending some quality time with his big bro, Latendresse has been joined at the hip with Livingston all summer long and the power forward in-the-making has reaped the benefits.
“After playing last season at over 230 pounds, the weight I’ve dropped this summer has made a huge difference,” admitted Latendresse, who is now tipping the scales at a trim 220 pounds. “The work I’ve put in with Scott has made me lighter on my feet and I can already feel the difference when I’m out on the ice.
“What has also helped me this summer is finally being healthy during the offseason,” added Latendresse, who has also been joined by buddy and teammate Maxim Lapierre this summer. “Two years ago I had a bum shoulder that held me back heading into my first training camp and then last summer it was the headaches from my concussions. This year I feel as good as I ever have at this time of year.”
If Guillaume was happily pain-free heading into the summer, all of that changed in a hurry once he hooked up with Livingston.
“Scotty is tough, there’s no question about that, but that’s what makes him so good at what he does,” said Latendresse. “I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to get my game where I want it to be and with Scotty’s help, I hope I’ll get there a lot sooner.”
With his rookie season now behind him, Latendresse now faces a whole other kind of pressure heading into this year’s training camp.
“A lot has changed for me since last year,” explained the 20-year-old winger. “Last summer was all about doing whatever I could to make the team. This year, I want to not only prove that I belong here, but make an impact and leave my mark on the NHL.”
Livingston definitely has a willing patient in Latendresse, who despite getting his butt-kicked day after day by Scott’s demanding workouts, keeps coming back for more.
“He was committed to this from the start. Guillaume showed up every day, on-time, and ready to work, and that’s all I can really ask for.” said Livingston. “He’s still got a lot to learn about pushing his limits, but the weight he’s shed this summer will serve him well on the ice this season.”
Something that served Livingston well on this day was a surprise pop-in from Dandenault, who had been following his Livingston-designed training program from his summer home outside of Montreal.
“It’s always great to have veterans show up and work out with the young guys every so often,” said Livingston. “You can’t put a price on a Mathieu Dandenault showing up like the consummate pro that he is and seeing him lead the kids in the drills like he did. Letting the younger players see what paying the price during the offseason can do says more about what I’m trying to instill in these players than anything I can ever tell them.”
The message is being heard loud and clear.
From chugging his way forward attached to his brother by a huge elastic band, to sprinting hooked up to parachutes for resistance and sprinting the length of a football field, Latendresse still fought his way to the end zone. Thanks to Livingston, the goal line has never felt closer.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com